'Very sorry': Coronation Street actor Bill Roache apologises after linking child abuse to 'previous lives' of victims

 

Coronation Street star Bill Roache today said he was "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 today 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.

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."

Interviewer Garth Bray commented: "To some people that sounds perhaps like you're saying victims bring things on themselves - is that what you're saying?"

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."

He added: "If someone has done something wrong, the law will take its course.

"But even so, all of them, whether they are proven guilty or not, we should not be judgmental about anybody, ever.

"We shouldn't go around condemning, unforgiving. We should all be totally forgiving about everything."

Dr Jon Bird, from Napac, condemned Roache's "hippy-dippy" spiritualist beliefs, saying child sex abuse left people with horrific physical and mental scars.

"Abuse is a crime. The rape of a child is an appalling crime and the long-term effects we hear about include suicide," he said.

"There is a whole range of terrible consequences that are life-long.

"This is a real insult, it is horrible. I think a lot of people will be deeply offended by what he said."

The NSPCC described the actor's original comments as "bizarre" and "not helpful for anyone".

Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's sexual abuse programme, said those words had been "hurtful and demeaning" to people who had already suffered horrendous experiences.

He said: "We should be concentrating on helping the thousands of children sexually abused every year who need therapy to re-build their lives."

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