Roache ‘victim’ felt like a ‘coward’

William Roache
William Roache

An alleged sex assault victim of Ilkeston born Coronation Street star William Roache said she felt “a coward” for not going to the police before she did.

The woman claims the actor made her perform a sex act on him while he gave her a lift home in his Rolls-Royce.

The alleged incident is said to have happened between June 1968 and September 1971.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court heard she contacted police on May 1 last year on the day that it emerged that Roache had been arrested on suspicion of raping a young girl.

Giving evidence, she was asked by prosecutor Anne Whyte if that had had any effect.

She replied: “She made me feel a coward because she came forward first. She was brave enough to do it. I didn’t have the guts to do it first.”

Roache, 81, denies two counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault involving five complainants aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.

Earlier, in a police interview played to the court, the woman said she was with a friend autograph-hunting outside Granada Studios in Manchester when Roache - who plays Ken Barlow in the soap - offered them a lift home in his Silver Cloud Rolls.

The witness’s sister, who is two years older, claimed Roache indecently assaulted her on a separate occasion when she was aged 14, after they were both invited inside the studios by the defendant.

Speaking of the alleged incident in the Rolls-Royce, she said she “froze” after Roache “fumbled with his flies” and then pulled her hand to his lap.

She added that she was “absolutely petrified”.

“You feel stupid because you had been in that position weeks ago,” she said.

“That was the second time I actually met or had dealings with William Roache.

“The first time we went with (my sister).”

After she got out of the Rolls-Royce when she said she was offered half a crown for the bus ride home, she said she told her friend: “God, (name). Did you see what happened then? I’m sure she said ‘Yes’.

“I said ‘I can’t believe it’.”

Years later she said she told her husband about the incident.

He had noticed she was writing down the names of Roache - whom she called Ken - and former Coronation Street actor Neville Buswell, who played Ray Langton, the court heard.

The witness has previously claimed that Mr Buswell sexually propositioned her when she and her sister had been invited to Granada Studios.

She eventually confided to her husband about both incidents and he urged her to do something about it but she refused.

Asked by the female officer why she had not previously come forward, she answered: “Because I feel intimidated. People think he (Roache) is some kind of super actor and he is so good and so lovely.

“You don’t stand a chance if you come forward and if I did go to court.”

The officer continued: “How do you feel about it now?”

“I hate him,” she said.

“Hate is a very strong word... you are angry,” said the officer.

“Yes,” she said.

Giving evidence to Miss Whyte, she said a television interview that Roache had given had “really annoyed her”.

“He said young girls who were going through this, they are being punished from a previous life... something they had done. That really annoyed me.”

She said her husband remarked that Roache was “nuts” and added “Who is he to judge?”

Miss Whyte asked the witness if any other comments by the defendant had affected her, to which the complainant replied: “He said girls were always hanging around the studios and they were throwing themselves at them... star-struck.”

The trial continues.