MILLIONAIRE publicist Max Clifford, a famous face on the Costa del Sol, lured a 12-year-old girl into a jacuzzi before allegedly assaulting her during a ‘tickling game’, a court heard.
The woman, now 43, told the court how Clifford invited her to join him and his disabled daughter Louise in the jacuzzi before forcing her to touch him under the water.
She described a ‘tickling game’ that Clifford played with her before the alleged assault.
“He would play it in the swimming pool. He would just tickle me and ask where I was ticklish, like people do with a child. I didn’t think that much of it,” she told the jury, at Southwark Crown Court in London.
“Then he would ask me to tickle him and he would say, ‘Guess where I am ticklish’, and I would guess the obvious – like the armpit – but I never got it right.”
The schoolgirl had befriended Clifford’s daughter Louise at the communal swimming pool while on holiday with her parents at a villa in Porto Cabopino, in Calahonda, Granada, in 1983.
On the final day of the holiday Clifford asked the girl to join him and Louise in the jacuzzi, but at first she was alone with him, she said.
“He started asking me again if I wanted to know where he was ticklish, and I said yes. He then started touching me. He put his hand down my bikini bottoms and asked me if I was ticklish there,” she told the court.
“I said, ‘No, no, I’m not ticklish there.'”
She said that Clifford grabbed her hand, forcing her to touch him under the water for several minutes, allegedly only releasing her when his daughter returned.
She added that later that night Clifford, his wife and his daughter had coffee with her and her parents at the hotel as though nothing had happened.
Richard Howell QC, defence for Clifford, argued the whole account was false, as Louise’s severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis would have made getting in and out of a jacuzzi extremely difficult.
The woman answered: ‘I don’t remember the fine detail. I remember what has given me nightmares for 30 years. I have not made this up. I didn’t want to be here today.”
The allegations only emerged when the woman’s elderly father, who got to know Clifford while on the holiday, gave evidence at the trial.
The alleged victim only told her parents about the assault three years ago, for fear that they would blame themselves.
The 70-year-old PR guru, from Hersham in Surrey, England, denies 11 counts of indecent assault on teenagers between 14 and 19, between 1966 and 1984.
The trial continues.
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