Coronation Street actor Bill Roache arrested on historic sex abuse allegation
CORONATION Street actor Bill Roache has been arrested for rape.
The 81-year-old actor, who has played Ken Barlow in the TV soap since its launch, was held at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, this morning.
He is to be questioned over an allegation of raping an under-age girl in Lancashire between April and July 1967.
It is understood Roache - the world's longest-serving soap actor, will not appear in the ITV show while investigations continue.
His arrest comes little over a month after he appeared to suggest sex abuse victims were being punished for sins in a past life.
Roache collected an award from Guinness World Records in 2010 for his lengthy service, having joined in 1960, appearing regularly ever since.
He was visited by police at his Cheshire home this morning.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "An 81-year-old man from Wilmslow in Cheshire has this morning, Wednesday May 1 2013, been arrested by Lancashire Constabulary on suspicion of rape.
"The man will be interviewed at a police station in Lancashire during the course of the day.
"We take all allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse, or anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, to come forward and report their concerns confident in the knowledge they will be investigated appropriately and with sensitivity."
An ITV spokeswoman said the broadcaster was not in a position to comment.
In March Roache issued an apology after he appeared to suggest sex abuse victims were being punished for past sins.
The actor was interviewed for a New Zealand news programme and said the public should not be judgmental but be "totally forgiving" of people who had committed child sex crimes.
He told the programme: "If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won't happen to you."
Asked to clarify whether that meant victims brought the abuse on themselves, he said: "No, not quite, but and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever."
He also called for anonymity for those accused of child sex offences because of the stigma they faced even if innocent.
Roache later issued a statement saying he was "sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments".
His comments were condemned by abuse charities.
In a TV interview last year Roache said he had slept with up to 1,000 women.
In the interview with Piers Morgan he told of his regrets at regularly cheating on his first wife Anna. The couple divorced in 1974 and his second wife Sara died in 2009.
A near neighbour of Roache's, who did not want to be named, said they were not aware of his arrest this morning until the press arrived outside his house.
The neighbour said: "All I can say is whenever I see him he's an absolutely delightful fellow. It's an absolute witch-hunt. Poor sod."
Shortly before 4pm, officers at Roache's home could bee seen placing brown paper evidence bags inside an unmarked police car, which left the address shortly afterwards.
It was followed by two more unmarked police cars, each with three plain clothes officers inside.