An alleged rape victim of Coronation Street star William Roache was so ‘humiliated’ at the attack she kept it a secret at the time, a jury has heard.
Preston Crown Court has been told she was a ‘gullible kid’ who was raped twice in 1967 at the actor’s then home in Lancashire – the first time when she was a 15-year-old virgin.
Her complaint to the police last March led to Roache, who has played Ken Barlow since the launch of the ITV soap, being charged two months later. In the publicity that followed, four women came forward alleging that Roache had sexually abused them.
Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies the rapes and five counts of indecent assault involving the four other complainants aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.
The first rape was said to have taken place weeks after Roache’s then wife, Anna Cropper, gave birth to their daughter Vanya.
Under cross-examination from Louise Blackwell QC, the complainant said Roache did not say anything or threaten her before she left the address. The woman said she did not tell her family or friends about what happened and went to school the next day.
“I was humiliated, disgusted and ashamed,” she said. “I was so shocked. I would never have mentioned it because I had been so gullible to have been caught in that situation.”
Later in the year she said she could not remember Roache saying anything after he allegedly pushed her against a wall of an adjoining property he owned and raped her again.
She said she was invited into the cottage, but was under the impression that an elderly woman was living there.
Miss Blackwell asked her if she was worried she was pregnant. The woman replied: “I don’t think I knew enough then. I didn’t realise the implications. They didn’t talk about those things in them days.”
Miss Blackwell suggested to her that she must have felt more upset about being raped a second time. She said: “Yes, because I thought that I should not have got into that position a second time. I should have known that I should not have trusted him.”
Asked what she did afterwards in the hours that followed, she said: “I can’t remember exact details…you just want to close your mind to them. I never thought that I would have to repeat them. I have buried these for 47 years.”
She told the court she suffered depression after the alleged rapes and was on anti-depressants into her late teens.
She said she suffered a nervous breakdown in later life, which was related to a different matter.
The woman agreed she initially ‘had no doubt’ she was 14 at the time of the rapes – although she now says she was 15.
Miss Blackwell said to her: “The reason why you have got it so badly wrong is because you are not telling the truth, you understand?”
“I understand what you are saying,” she replied.
The woman said that she had watched Coronation Street before the alleged rapes and continued do so after. “There’s no threat when he is on television,” she said.
The witness said she could not remember all the ‘minor details’ of the allegations. “Sometimes I can’t remember what I said yesterday,” she said.
“I have not forgotten anything about the main events, believe me.”
The witness said she now had problems with her short-term memory because of health reasons. But it had been confirmed medically that her long-term memory was fine, she said.
Miss Blackwell asked her how close to going to the police she was after watching the Piers Morgan’s Life Stories TV interview of Roache. She said she could not remember exactly when she watched the broadcast which she said had ‘made my skin crawl’ after he discussed his love life.
She continued: “The thing that stirred me up was the interview that Cyril Smith’s brother was giving following the taking down of his plaque following the relevations made against him (Cyril Smith). He had been stripped of his plaque and his brother was saying ‘leave him alone, he’s dead’. That is what annoyed me. He was saying his victims should just get on with it…basically saying the victims had no right to come forward. What gave him the right to say that about the victims?”
The witness explained to prosecutor Anne Whyte QC why she did not give her name or that of Roache when she made the first phone call to the police.
“I was ashamed at even bringing the incident up,” she said. “I didn’t want my name in the papers. I wasn’t even sure it was confidential. I was not sure how far I wanted to take it at that point.”
Miss Whyte said: “It has been suggested to you that are not telling the truth, what do you say about that?”
The witness replied: “It’s ridiculous. I would expect her (Miss Blackwell) to say that. She is defending him. That is her job. It doesn’t surprise me.”