William Roache rape complainant: ‘I thought I was to blame’

A woman allegedly raped by Coronation Street star William Roache kept quiet for decades because she blamed herself, a court has heard.

She described how she was a ‘gullible’ teenager – ‘a kid’ – who was raped on two different occasions in 1967 at the actor’s then home in Lancashire.

A jury at Preston Crown Court has been told the woman finally came forward to police last year in the wake of a number of celebrity sex scandals.

In her police interview played to the court, the woman told a female officer: “All these years I have never brought it to anyone’s attention. I chose not to say anything. I thought I was to blame, especially the second time.

“I was gullible… I was a kid. I would never have repeated it to anyone.”

But by last year she said ‘it has started to bother me because there might be other people that this has happened to’.

She continued: “It started where I can’t sleep, it is there at the back of my mind all the time.”

The woman detailed how in the first alleged assault Roache – who knew her she said – had sex with her with ‘no warning’ in the bedroom of his bungalow.

The court has heard the woman was aged 15 at the time and was a virgin.

“I was a bit shocked,” she said. “There was no warning to anything that would have happened. There was nothing to suggest that anything improper was going to happen.

“It happened before I realised it. I didn’t know what to do. I was panicking. I didn’t have to fight him. He was not aggressive in any way.”

Wearing a T-shirt, skirt and socks, she said Roache did not undress her.

“He was big, I was little,” she said. “I remember thinking I just want to get out of here. It just seemed to go on a long time.

“I just didn’t know what to make of it.”

She added: “I thought it was my fault and I didn’t know why because nothing had taken place before that suggested that anything was going to happen.”

The woman said she was raped again later in the year when he again invited her into his home.

“Before I knew it I had been grabbed again,” she said.

She said she should not have gone in his home the second time.

The complainant said she did not see him again until years later when she was a young mother.

He walked past at her at a local carnival and said: “Oh hello, I know you don’t I?”

She said that was the last time she had seen the actor.

Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire – who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street for more than 50 years – denies the rapes.

He has also pleaded not guilty to five counts of indecent assault involving four other complainants aged 16 and under.

The alleged offences are said to have occurred between 1965 and 1971.

The court heard that, at the time of the alleged rapes, Roache’s then-wife had recently given birth to the couple’s second child.

The witness was then taken through the alleged offences in detail by the officer during the interview, in which she described it as a ‘horrible, horrible experience’.

In the first rape she said she went into Roache’s bungalow and was immediately taken into the bedroom by the defendant.

“I just remember the double bed being there and just being pushed on to it. I didn’t understand what was happening. I was a kid, I was a kid at 14, not grown-up like they are now.

“He laid on top of me… I knew what was happening. He did not kiss me, he was very cold and calculating.

“It was very uncomfortable, but at the time I was panic-stricken, I just wanted to go home. I can remember just trying to stare at the ceiling.

“He did not say a word.”

Afterwards the woman said Roache: “Just got off, zipped himself up again and I was allowed to go.

“I just left. I got out. I thought it was my fault. I had gone round there in innocence and did not know why it happened. I didn’t see it coming.”

The police interview then moved on to the second alleged rape, several months later, at a different property.

The witness said she made a ‘big mistake’ in accepting Roache’s invitation to ‘come and have a look’ at the house.

This time as soon as she entered the house she was pushed against a wall and raped a second time.

“I just recall his zip coming down,” she said. “I was not there very long, it was like a quick fumble and I was out the door.

“It was all over really quickly. Once he had done what he done he just moved away.

“There was no intimacy. It was an instant thing. It had to be my fault the second time, obviously I was trusting.”

The witness was asked by the officer why she did not try to escape, but she said Roache was a ‘lot bigger’ than her.

“I was too shocked. I just froze. You just think you want to get out of here. It’s a horrible, horrible experience.

“I was not consenting at 14, we were kids at 14. I would not have been consenting to it, I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

The female police officer asked her what word she would use to describe her allegations.

The witness replied: “I don’t know if you called it rape in them days because I was not pinned down. I was sexually abused.”

She said she had recently watched a TV interview Roache gave for Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.

“He was talking about the number of women in his life,” she said. “He was quite amused by it all.

“It made my skin crawl to be honest. It was just the way he laughed it all off. It was the sort of way he was laughing.”

She added: “I always liked him as a person until this happened.”

The complainant recalled a conversation with her son which led her to finally going to the police in March last year.

She said a discussion took place after the emergence of the Savile scandal and later revelations about Sir Cyril Smith.

Her son asked her why the general allegations were just coming to light.

“I said in those days you didn’t talk about things like that,” she said. “They would say ‘go away, it’s lies’. These kids would not have been believed. I said ‘I know that’ and that is when it started to unravel.

“I said I know things like this happen because I have been in a position like this.”

She said she had not wanted to “relive” the incidents.

“I was defending these kids over why they had not come forward for 30 or 40 years.”

Asked why she had decided to make a complaint, she replied: “It has eaten away at me. It is on the media all the time.

“I now realise what happened to me was not an isolated incident. I thought it had to be my fault… I was ashamed, frightened and disgusted, to be quite honest.

“I realise now it was not just one person, I thought it was just him. And now it is coming out all over the place that people are doing it.”

The trial continues.