British PR guru Max Clifford found guilty of indecent assaults
British public relations guru Max Clifford stops to pose for members of the media as he arrives for his trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP / Matt Dunham)
Gregory Katz, The Associated Press
Published Monday, April 28, 2014 12:11PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 28, 2014 4:26PM EDT
LONDON -- Prominent public relations agent Max Clifford was found guilty Monday of eight counts of indecent assault stemming from attacks on teenagers dating back more 40 years.
The publicist, known in Britain for handling high-profile celebrity scandals and representing TV mogul Simon Cowell, had called the accusations "utterly untrue, disgusting lies."
Prosecutors charged in Southwark Crown Court that he lured young girls into sex by offering them acting roles, including in the hit TV soap opera "Dynasty."
Peter Watt, director of a national child protection group, said Clifford had "rightly been unmasked as a ruthless and manipulative sex offender."
In one case, Clifford was found guilty of repeatedly abusing a 15-year-old girl after he made friends with her family in Spain in 1977. She said he convinced her parents he could make her a star before taking her out in his car and sexually abusing her.
A London jury also cleared Clifford, 71, of two counts of indecent assault and was unable to reach a decision on another count after more than a week of deliberations.
He will be sentenced Friday.
Clifford's trial followed the arrests of other high-profile show business figures accused of sex abuse. The investigations started when British police launched "Operation Yewtree" to investigate child sex abuse after a scandal surrounding late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile.
Savile, one of Britain's best-known TV presenters, was named by police as a "prolific" sexual predator who used his fame to target hundreds of teenagers over five decades. The allegations surfaced after Savile died in October 2011.
More than a dozen other show business personalities have been arrested as part of the Yewtree probe. They include veteran entertainer Rolf Harris, 83, who has denied charges of assaulting four girls from the 1960s to the 80s. He goes on trial later this week.
Former BBC radio DJ Dave Lee Travis, 68, is fighting a charge of indecent assault on a woman in 1995, months after he was cleared of 12 other counts of indecent assault.