'Coronation Street' actor Roache held in rape claim

PRESTON, England, May 1 (UPI) -- An 81-year-old actor playing in the British soap opera "Coronation Street" for 53 years was arrested on suspicion of raping a 15-year-old girl when he was 35.

Bill Roache, the world's longest-serving soap actor, playing Ken Barlow on the program since its first episode Dec. 9, 1960, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Wilmslow, 10 miles south of Manchester, Lancashire, police said.


Detectives searched the actor's house and took him to be interviewed at a Lancashire police station, about 45 miles north.

Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county in northwest England.

Police said the reported offenses were allegedly committed in the the Lancashire town of Haslingden, about 20 miles north of Manchester, between April and July 1967, and involved an unidentified 15-year-old girl. The girl would now be 45 or 46.

Roache had no immediate comment.

A spokesman for ITV, the soap opera's network, said, "Given that a police investigation is under way, it would not be appropriate for us to comment."

Roache is not expected to appear on the program while the investigation is going on, British newspapers The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph said.


In March, Roache apologized after he told Television New Zealand victims of sex crimes were being punished through a karmic-like cause and effect.

"If you know that you are pure love ... these things won't happen to you," he told the network's One News division.

He clarified, explaining he wasn't saying sex victims bring such crimes onto themselves, but he said, "Everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives."

He later said he was "very sorry for any offense that has been caused as a result of my comments."

In October, when British disc jockey and TV personality Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 at age 84, faced hundreds of posthumous accusations of sexually abusing underage adolescent and prepubescent girls and boys, Roache called pedophilia "absolutely horrendous."

"Pedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

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