'Coronation Street' veteran William Roache cleared of rape and assault charges

Thursday, 6 February 2014 - 6:42pm IST | Place: London | Agency: Reuters
  • William Roache.

"Coronation Street" veteran William Roache was cleared on Thursday of historic rape and indecent assault charges and said in a statement afterwards: "there are no winners."

Roache, 81, who has played Ken Barlow in the world's longest-runing soap since it began in 1960, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967 and four counts of indecent assault involving four girls aged 11 to 16 in Manchester in the late 1960s.

He was one of several ageing celebrities to have been accused of historic sex crimes in Britain after revelations that the late BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile had been a prolific predatory sex offender sparked a widespread police investigation.

Roache's arrest was not directly related to the Savile investigations, which have led to 14 arrests and charges against four people including Australian entertainer Rolf Harris, former BBC Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis, celebrity publicist Max Clifford and former BBC chauffeur David Smith.

During the three-week trial at Preston Crown Court, Roache had denied knowing any of his accusers. Several of his co-stars in the ITV soap had testified as character witnesses on his behalf.

Surrounded by members of his family after the verdict, he thanked his supporters and said: "In these situations there are no winners and I think we should all be much kinder to ourselves."

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