Folk Singer Roy Harper Cleared of Two Child Sex Charges, Could Face Retrial
More than a year since folk singer Roy Harper was charged with several counts of child sex assaults, a jury has begun announcing verdicts – but with some catches.
On Thursday, a British jury at Worcester Crown Court acquitted the 73-year-old singer-songwriter, best known as the singer of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” and the subject of a Led Zeppelin song, on two counts of indecent assault. One was alleged to have happened against a 16-year-old in the Eighties, according to Western Daily Press, while the other was alleged to have occurred against a girl who was 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.
But despite deliberations lasting more than 13 hours, the jury failed to reach majority verdicts on two further counts of indecent assault, two of indecency with a child and one of having sex with a child, Western Morning News reports. Judge Robert Juckes QC discharged the jury on Friday and gave prosecutors two weeks to decide whether or not to seek a retrial.
In November 2013, Harper was charged with nine counts of sexually abusing a girl dating back to the mid-Seventies, beginning when she was 11. A 10th charge was later added concerning the incident in the Eighties. Prosecutors alleged four counts of indecent assault, four of indecency with a child and two of having sex with a minor. The status of the remaining three charges was unclear as of press time.
Harper pleaded not guilty to all of the charges when the trial began this past January, the BBC reports. In 2013, his Facebook issued this statement: “Roy vigorously denies the allegations that have been made against him and looks forward to clearing his name.”
The younger of the two alleged victims claimed that several of the abuses took place at Harper’s home in the Seventies. Her attorney said the woman, now in her 40s, had struggled with alcohol and twice attempted suicide. In a video interview, taken in 2012 and played for the court, the woman recalled Harper’s home as an “exciting” place. “There were lots of famous people there; it was a nice place to be,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to go round there. I felt special.
“I think about it daily,” she said. “I drink far too much to get to sleep – just to forget about it.”
Harper, who has issued more than 20 studio LPs since 1966, rose to prominence in the Seventies, singing with Pink Floyd and touring with Led Zeppelin, who included the song “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” on their Led Zeppelin III LP. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson once cited Harper as a major songwriting influence, as have Fleet Foxes. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Joanna Newsom both attended his 70th birthday concert in 2011. The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on the singer in 2013.