Coronation Street veteran, William Roache, has been cleared of all charges of the historic sexual abuse of five girls aged 16 or under.
The actor, who has played Ken Barlow for over half a decade in the ITV programme, making him the longest ever serving soap actor in the world, was arrested following the alleged victims coming forward to claim that they had suffered abuse at his hands. The women involved claimed the star used his TV popularity to “exploit” them during the 1960’s & 1970’s.
Roache’s trial began in Preston Crown Court, after a much-publicised investigation brought to light following the now infamous Operation Yewtree which saw a string of well-known celebrities accused of similar crimes, just over a week ago.
During the trial the Telegraph reports that Roache insisted to the jury that he did know his alleged victims, and that their claims were completely untrue, as well as adding that he was “astounded” and “horrified” at being arrested for the crimes on May 1 last year.
Meanwhile Roache’s defence, Louise Blackwell QC, described the case against the actor as “nonsense” whilst implying the case was only brought to trial because of the Jimmy Savile scandal, exclaiming:
“In the post Jimmy Savile era, once someone makes an allegation, it’s got to go to court, no sense will prevail, it has to go to court,”
During the trial several of Roache’s Corrie cast-mates, including his on-screen wife Anne Kirkbride, were brought to the stand to give character testimonies, were a jury heard how the 81 year old actor was a “perfect gentleman” and “father figure”.
Since the investigation began ITV have written Roache out of Coronation Street temporarily, with his character flying out to Canada to see his son, whilst promising a juicy storyline to bring him back to should the verdict find him not guilty.