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Coro star William Roache faces historic sex charges

Published: 6:48AM Thursday May 02, 2013 Source: ONE News

The world's longest-serving soap opera star will appear in court in two weeks on two historic rape charges involving an underage girl.

Coronation Street actor William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the show, was arrested and questioned by police in the UK over allegations he raped a 15-year-old girl, on more than one occasion, in 1967.

After a day in custody Lancashire Police were given the go ahead to charge Roache with two counts of rape.

Detectives had been working with the Crown Prosecution Service on the case since the start of March.

"Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Roache to be charged with two offences of rape relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1967," Nazir Afzal from the Crown Prosecution Service said.

"Mr Roache will appear at Preston Magistrates' Court on 14 May 2013."

Roach would have been 35 when the alleged incidents took place, in his sixth season as the young star of Coronation Street.

He recently returned to England from a visit to New Zealand where he was involved in a Coronation Street based stage show.

'They don't ask for their birth certificate'

The 81-year-old actor's arrest comes weeks after he was forced to issue a public apology after claiming child sex abuse victims were being punished for past sins in an interview with TVNZ's Sunday.

In the Sunday interview with ONE News Europe Correspondent Garth Bray, Roache suggested sex abuse victims were paying for their behaviour in "previous lives".

Watch the controversial interview here.

"Paedophilia is absolutely horrendous; paedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with."

"There's a fringe of people, particularly pop singers, they have these groupies, these girls....they don't ask for their birth certificate, they don't know what age they may be but they're certainly not grooming them and exploding them but they can be caught in this trap."

Roache also defended co-star Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell who has been charged with 19 sexual offences against a child.

International backlash to the comments saw Roache apologise, saying he had been misunderstood in the interview.

"I apologise for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments," he said in a statement.

"My intention in the article was not to cause any distress and I offer my utmost sympathies to anyone who has been affected by sexual offences or paedophilia."

Roache also revealed in the Sunday interview details of his sexual activity in the 1960s.

"I misbehaved, I had a lot of girlfriends, different women, all over the place," he told Sunday.

"I don't know it might have been 20,000...oh no it wouldn't be that but it was more that I could count."

Roache maintains the comments were taken in the wrong way and were blown out of proportion.

"The trouble is in spiritual matters they're quite complex," he said.

Items removed

Police have spent most of the day conducting an extensive search of Roache's home in Wilmslow in Cheshire and removed several items, watched by a large media contingent waiting outside.

"He returned here just before Anzac Day and was about to return to work on the set of Coronation Street," said Garth Bray.

"Although we understand a programme featuring scenes of him later this week is now being re-edited and he will play no further part in the programme until this investigation is over."

Roache has played Ken Barlow in the soap since 1960.