Belfast Telegraph

Roache 'victim' was 'humiliated'

An alleged rape victim of Coronation Street star William Roache was so "humiliated" at the attack she kept it a secret at the time, a jury has heard.

Preston Crown Court has been told she was a "gullible kid" who was raped twice in 1967 at the actor's then home in Lancashire - the first time when she was a 15-year-old virgin.

Her complaint to the police last March led to Roache, who has played Ken Barlow since the launch of the ITV soap, being charged two months later. In the publicity that followed, four women came forward alleging that Roache had sexually abused them.

Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies the rapes and five counts of indecent assault involving the four other complainants aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.

The first rape was said to have taken place weeks after Roache's then wife, Anna Cropper, gave birth to their daughter Vanya.

Under cross-examination from Louise Blackwell QC, the complainant said Roache did not say anything or threaten her before she left the address. The woman said she did not tell her family or friends about what happened and went to school the next day.

"I was humiliated, disgusted and ashamed," she said. "I was so shocked. I would never have mentioned it because I had been so gullible to have been caught in that situation."

Later in the year she said she could not remember Roache saying anything after he allegedly pushed her against a wall of an adjoining property he owned and raped her again.

She said she was invited into the cottage but was under the impression that an elderly woman was living there.

Miss Blackwell suggested to her that she must have felt more upset about being raped a second time. She said: "Yes because I thought that I should not have got into that position a second time. I should have known that I should not have trusted him."

Asked what she did afterwards in the hours that followed, she said: "I can't remember exact just want to close your mind to them. I never thought that I would have to repeat them. I have buried these for 47 years."

She told the court she suffered depression after the alleged rapes and was on anti-depressants into her late teens. She said she suffered a nervous breakdown in later life, which was related to a different matter.

The woman agreed she initially "had no doubt" she was 14 at the time of the rapes - although she now says she was 15.

Miss Blackwell said to her: "The reason why you have got it so badly wrong is because you are not telling the truth, you understand?"

"I understand what you are saying," she replied.

The woman said that she had watched Coronation Street before the alleged rapes and continued do so after. "There's no threat when he is on television," she said.

The witness said she could not remember all the "minor details" of the allegations. "Sometimes I can't remember what I said yesterday," she said. "I have not forgotten anything about the main events, believe me."

The witness said she now had problems with her short-term memory because of health reasons. But it had been confirmed medically that her long-term memory was fine, she said.

Miss Blackwell asked her how close to going to the police did she watch the Piers Morgan's Life Stories TV interview of Roache. She said she could not remember exactly when she watched the broadcast which she said had "made my skin crawl" after he discussed his love life.

She continued: "The thing that stirred me up was the interview that Cyril Smith's brother was giving following the taking down of his plaque following the relevations made against him (Cyril Smith). He had been stripped of his plaque and his brother was saying 'leave him alone, he's dead'. That is what annoyed me. He was saying his victims should just get on with it...basically saying the victims had no right to come forward. What gave him the right to say that about the victims?"

The witness explained to prosecutor Anne Whyte QC why she did not give her name or that or Roache when she made the first phone call to the police. "I was ashamed at even bringing the incident up," she said. "I didn't want my name in the papers. I wasn't even sure it was confidential. I was not sure how far I wanted to take it at that point."

Miss Whyte said: "It has been suggested to you that are not telling the truth, what do you say about that?" The witness replied: "It's ridiculous. I would expect her (Miss Blackwell) to say that. She is defending him. That is her job. It doesn't surprise me."

Giving evidence, the alleged rape victim's son said he recalled a conversation with her about the time the Jimmy Savile and Smith cases had emerged in 2012.

"I had brought up the night before I had seen about Cyril Smith's brother sort of complaining that they were diminishing his character now that he had died," he said. "And that it was not fair to have a go at him when he was not there and leave him alone. I said something along the lines of 'why would you leave it until now'. Why would the victims leave it so long.

"There was a total change in her character. She sat forward and was trying to force her point across. She was explaining to me her feelings straightaway. She said 'it's easy for you to say that, times were totally different then to what they are now'. You could tell there was something behind it. It was something she felt massively strongly about."

He said he "pushed and pushed" to discover what was on her mind. On a later date she eventually told him who she was talking about.

"I was very angry," he said. "I had a few choice names to call him, I'm not going to lie. She kind of frustrated me more. She would not have it, she said he is not like Jimmy Savile. He is not a monster, he didn't beat me up, he didn't hurt me.

"It made my blood boil because she was kind of defending him, if that makes sense. I told her she had to go to the police. She really didn't want to. She was telling me straight away that some things are just best left alone in the past. She didn't want to cause a rift between his family and on top of that she desperately didn't want anyone to find about it."

The jury was played a video recording of a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by Roache at Granada Studios.

She said she thought she was about 14 when the actor arranged to get a pass for her and her sister.

She said she and her sister would sit on the steps outside the studio in the summer holidays along with other girls and boys. She said she thought they were autograph-hunting.

"I remember a comment from the guy who played Mike Baldwin," she said. "I remember him saying - because Ken Barlow was talking to me and my sister - he said 'You want to watch that one'."

"Meaning?" asked the officer.

"Ken Barlow," she replied.

She said she went inside the studio and down some stairs with Roache and turned one way, while her sister went the other way with actor Neville Buswell, who played Ray Langton in the soap.

The pair went into a room, where she said the assault took place.

"He came over to me and stood really close to me and put both hands on my breasts," she said. "He took his right arm off and he had gone up my skirt and into my knickers.

"I started worrying. I knew I couldn't run."

She said he thought he was in his actor's clothing at the time and was wearing make-up.

She recalled him wearing tight beige slacks and a pink shirt and that she wore a plain school skirt, white socks and a blouse or T-shirt.

When the officer asked her who she was talking about, she said: "We called him The Roache."

Recapping the alleged assault, the woman said the actor's appearance was "like a ghost".

He had "very white make-up and lipstick" which was "splattered on".

She said: "He sort of came over to me and pressed himself against me. He was like an octopus. Hands everywhere."

She added: "I was terrified. I didn't know what to do. I didn't expect anything like that to happen.

"I was absolutely mortified. I just wanted to get out of the room but I was frightened of running in case he dragged me back, so I said I was on a period.

"I think he had plans when he said 'We will take you around and get you passes'."

She said she did not tell her sister - who also claims she was abused by Roache on a separate occasion - about the alleged incident until a few weeks later.

She said she never returned to the studios.

In the wake of the publicity surrounding Savile and Stuart Hall, she remembered saying to her sister: "I wonder if Ken Barlow is c***ping himself."

But she said she did not think of coming forward because she did not think she would be believed.

She then remembered her sister being angered at comments attributed to Roache in an interview.

"I think I came out when The Roache made this comment about us being paid back for something you did in a previous life. Making out we were something or other."

She said when it was announced that Roache had been arrested on suspicion of rape, her sister rang her and said: "Have you heard the good news? Roache has been done for rape, and I said 'You are joking?'.

"She said 'Are you going to the police?' and I said 'No'. I thought 'Who is going to believe me?'"

The officer asked: "What made you come forward?"

She replied: "It was (my sister). She said we have got to nail him, we can't let him get away with it. I thought if she is going to come forward then I will."

She said she "plucked up courage" but felt "embarrassed" and "absolutely stupid".

"We thought we were the only ones until this girl came forward," she said.

The witness said she felt the incident had been her fault "for being there in the first place".

The officer asked her: "And now?"

"I don't know," she said. "Perhaps if we had not been there. He may have been planning all of this. He was making us out to be someone special. He has picked us out to go into the studios."

In the interview she added that Roache had previously given the sisters a lift home in his Rolls-Royce but she later became upset when giving evidence - via video-link - and said she was mistaken and that it was Buswell.

The woman said she next saw Roache on a golf course with other celebrities more than 10 years later.

"I stepped back," she said. "I thought 'I wonder does he remember me?'"

At the end of the police interview she told the officer: "I think we should get him on The Jeremy Kyle Show... the lie detector."


From Belfast Telegraph