UK & World News
Corrie Star Bill Roache's Life Laid Out At Trial
The not guilty verdict passed on Coronation Street actor William Roache ends a public saga which began when he was arrested at his home in Wilmslow in May of last year.
The 81-year-old was initially charged with raping the same girl twice and later further accused of indecently assaulting four others.
Throughout the past nine months and in a trial lasting almost four weeks he denied all the allegations, insisting he had never met any of the complainants.
Roache was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, the son of a GP. After attending boarding school in Wales he was called for national service.
As a soldier he rose to the rank of captain but suffered an accident during live ammunition training which permanently damaged his hearing.
Leaving the army aged 26, he took several minor acting roles before joining the original cast of Coronation Street as Ken Barlow.
But as his star rose, his personal life began to suffer.
In the mid-Sixties Roache had two children with first wife and actress Anna Cropper but the pressure of often being apart due to work meant their marriage failed.
It was during this period that one woman, now 62, said the star had pushed her onto a bed before raping her in his Lancashire bungalow.
The woman said the attack took place when she was 15 years old in 1967 and claimed that she was raped again later the same year after entering a nearby cottage also owned by Roache.
Roache admitted in court that he had been unfaithful and had taken lovers back to his bungalow at the time but he denied ever having a sexual interest in underage girls.
In a statement to police on June 6, 2013 following his arrest he wrote: "I say that I am a very sensitive and caring person. I have always fully respected the rights and wishes of other people. I wouldn't dream of forcing myself sexually on to any person."
He went on: "It is correct to say that I have, during my career, been in a position whereby a large number of women have indicated a desire to have a relationship with me, often a sexual one.
"I do enjoy having sex with women. I accept that I have taken the opportunity to have sex with many women.
"However, this has always, and without exception, been with the woman's full and unconditional consent."
Roache met his second wife Sara Mottram in 1971 and from then on was "totally and absolutely faithful".
Tragically, the second of their three children died aged 18 months of bronchial pneumonia.
In 2009 tragedy struck again when his second wife died suddenly from a heart condition aged just 58.
A year later he began a relationship with TV weathergirl Emma Jesson, 36 years his junior, but after three years they split, reportedly because Roache wanted to concentrate on his "spiritual path".
Roache is the world's longest serving actor in a single role and was awarded an MBE in 2001 - but he has sometimes courted controversy.
In a TV interview he talked about his years of drinking and womanising, coyly giving no denial when the figure of 1,000 lovers was put to him.
The actor was once famously photographed in Druid clothing and is a spiritualist who believes in reincarnation.
His beliefs raised eyebrows when he was asked by a New Zealand television interviewer last year whether he believed abuse victims brought their predicaments on themselves.
He replied: "No, not quite ... and yet yes in that everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever."
Asked by Sky News to clarify his position he said: "If you're going to pin me down and start saying all victims deserve what they're getting then no - I am not saying that."
In his trial defence barrister Louise Blackwell QC said the spectre of Jimmy Savile and an unhealthy interest in sending celebrities to court for sex offences haunted the trial.
Questions are now likely to be raised as to whether in such cases the pendulum may have swung too far towards accusations from the alleged victims of historic sexual abuse.
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