Soap actor William Roache has been charged with rape.
According to BBCNews, Roache, an 81-year-old actor most notable for holding the Guinness World Record for longest-serving soap actor, was charged on Wednesday with two counts of rape against an underage girl. The charges date back almost 50 years, with the accused allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967.
Roache plays Ken Barlow on the long-running British soap Coronation Street, a role he has held since its first episode in 1960.
“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,” prosecutor Nazir Afzal said in a statement.
The soap actor has released his own statement through his lawyers:
“I am astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events of the last 24 hours. I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead,” Roache said.
“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time.”
Roache is the latest high-profile media figure in the UK to be accused of sex crimes since the death of BBC TV host Jimmy Savile in 2011. He was one of the biggest stars of the 70s and 80s, but after his death, he was discovered to have allegedly committed sex crimes. The posthumous investigation into the extent of these crimes resulted in the arrests of several other celebrities, including publicist Max Clifford, singer Gary Glitter and comedian Freddie Starr.
Roache’s rape charge is apparently unrelated to Savile’s crimes, but an ITV spokesperson confirmed that the soap actor’s rape charge will prevent him from appearing in Coronation Street until it is settled.
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