Coronation Street star Bill Roache to be charged with two counts of rape

Wednesday 01 May 2013 22.26
Bill Roache was visited by police at his Cheshire home this morning
Bill Roache was visited by police at his Cheshire home this morning

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service has said long-serving Coronation Street star Bill Roache is to be charged with two counts of rape of a 15-year-old girl in 1967.

The actor, 81, who has played Ken Barlow in the TV soap since its launch, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, this morning.

He was questioned over an allegation of raping an underage girl in Lancashire between April and July 1967.

It is understood Mr Roache, the world's longest-serving soap actor, will not appear in the ITV show while investigations continue.

His arrest comes little over a month after he appeared to suggest sex abuse victims were being punished for sins in a past life.

Mr Roache collected an award from Guinness World Records in 2010 for his lengthy service, having joined in 1960, appearing regularly ever since.

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "We have carefully considered all the evidence gathered by Lancashire Police in relation to William Roache following allegations of rape.

"We have been reviewing evidence and providing early investigative advice to Lancashire Police since 1 March 2013.

"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."

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

An ITV spokeswoman said the broadcaster was not in a position to comment.

In March, Mr Roache issued an apology after he appeared to suggest sex abuse victims were being punished for past sins.

The actor was interviewed for a New Zealand news programme and said the public should not be judgmental but be "totally forgiving" of people who had committed child sex crimes.

He told the programme: "If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won't happen to you."

Asked to clarify whether that meant victims brought the abuse on themselves, he said: "No, not quite, but and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever."

He also called for anonymity for those accused of child sex offences because of the stigma they faced even if innocent.

Mr Roache later issued a statement saying he was "sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments".

His comments were condemned by abuse charities.

In a TV interview last year Mr Roache said he had slept with up to 1,000 women.

In the interview with Piers Morgan he told of his regrets at regularly cheating on his first wife Anna.

The couple divorced in 1974 and his second wife Sara died in 2009.