Suzi Dent has waived her right to anonymity to speak publicly for the first time to ABC’s 7.30 about what she remembers as a “bad day with a dirty old man”.
Harris was sentenced to five years and nine months behind bars in June 2014 for a dozen indecent assaults against four teenage girls between 1968 and 1986.
He only served three years of his sentenced before he was released on parole in May 2017.
Ms Dent was an anonymous ‘bad character’ witness against Harris during the court proceedings.
She had her own experience with the 89-year-old more than 30 years ago when she was working as a young makeup artist.
Ms Dent was 24-years-old when she was hired for a job at Channel 7. She told 7.30 she remembered being excited to be working with Harris as she had frequently seen him on the TV.
What happened next, she described as an “all-day groping experience with a man who couldn’t keep his hands off me”.
“As soon as he sat in my make-up chair – I was wearing baggy pants at the time, baggy shorts – he’d run both hands up my legs all the way up my shorts right up to my thighs,” Ms Dent said.
“He would grab the leather belt and pull me towards him so he could crotch-grind, which never quite happened, but he certainly tried.”
She said the way he looked at her made her realise “who he was”.
“And it wasn’t the happy-go-lucky, man. It was somebody who was looking at me in not the way I would like to be looked at. And that was a bit of a shock,” she said.
Ms Dent told the program that he tried to touch her every chance he got and she felt like she wasn’t able to react negatively.
“I didn’t jump or move or anything like that, because it’s my job as a make-up artist to not upset the talent,” she said.
“So if I had said something to him or, you know, slapped his hand away – which I might add is not what we did in 1986, it was not acceptable behaviour for women to stand up for themselves like that, they had to cop it on the chin and grin and bear it and be polite.”
When Ms Dent told a colleague about her day with the “dirty old man” she was told that it was a common occurrence and had even earnt him the nickname “The Octopus”.
“She said ‘He does that sort of thing all the time to make-up artists and he doesn’t keep his hands to himself. He’s like an octopus but because he puts his hands everywhere’,” Ms Dent said.
So in 2013 when Harris was charged with multiple indecent assaults, Ms Dent made the decision to help put him behind bars.
She contacted the British Police to see what she could do to help and eventually ended up giving evidence during the trial, telling the court about the day she spent with Harris.
“I came forward for the women who were little girls when they were molested by Rolf Harris,” she said.
“All I had to do was tell the truth about a man who couldn’t keep his hands off me, and what it was like and how he behaved.”
Ms Dent said there were women from four or five different countries who had very similar stories to her own.
Harris has denied the allegations.
Ms Dent was “thrilled” when he was found guilty and has since written a book about her experience, titled Staring Down Rolf Harris.
She said she wants to encourage and empower other women to come forward and speak out about these types of experiences.