Roache 'sorry' over abuse comments
Coronation Street star Bill Roache has said he is "very sorry" over his controversial comments on the victims of paedophiles which seemed to suggest they were being punished for past sins.
Roache, 80, who has played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 50 years, had told New Zealand's One News that the public should not be judgmental but be "totally forgiving" of people who have committed child sex crimes.
In a statement, the actor said: "I would like to say that I am very sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments.
"I would never say that victims of sexual offences are in any way responsible for the abuse they have suffered and I offer my deepest apologies if anything I have said has been misunderstood in this way. I had no intention of causing any kind of distress as a result of my interview and I offer my utmost sympathies to anyone affected by sexual offences and paedophilia."
His comments drew stinging criticism from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), which called them an insult to abuse victims, while the NSPCC described the actor's original quotes as "bizarre" and "not helpful for anyone".
Roache caused outrage with the interview in which the furore around the Jimmy Savile sex abuse revelations were discussed. Former DJ Savile has now been exposed as one of the country's most prolific paedophiles who may have abused hundreds of children. Roache said in the interview: "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."
When asked if he was saying victims bring things onto themselves, Roache replied: "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."
Roache went on to call for anonymity for all those accused of child sex offences because of the stigma they faced even if innocent. He said: "Paedophilia is absolutely horrendous. Paedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with.
"But there's a fringe of people who, particularly pop singers, they have these groupies, these girls, who come, they're sexually active, sexually mature, they don't ask for their birth certificate, they don't know what age they may be. But they're certainly not grooming them and exploiting them, but they can be caught in this trap. These people are instantly stigmatised, some will be innocent, some will not, but until such time as it's proven there should be anonymity for both."
An ITV spokesman said: "These were personal comments that Bill made for which he has apologised."