After due process, actor Bill Roache has been found not guilty of sex abuse. His accusers had their say and were disbelieved by the jury. Since then his defenders have been full of righteous froth, calling noisily for an end to celebrity “witch-hunts”. What an oddly inappropriate term to use. Women, often those who were defiant and feisty, were accused of witchcraft by men in pre-modern times. The named females were put through harsh, terrifying hearings, tortured and killed. This still happens today in many parts of the world. How can such terrible injustice be compared to Roache’s trial before a proper court, where he was represented by excellent lawyers?
My fear is that after this case, all those who were abused by other male celebs, will be seen as malevolent and devilish crones. They will be silenced again after finding the courage to speak up post-Savile. For decades such victims blamed themselves and thought they would be disbelieved. The woman who wrote to me about her sexual abuse by television presenter Stuart Hall, thought her testimony would be worth nothing, that he would get away. He didn’t, because the police investigated him and courts tested him like any other defendant.
After the Roache trial, public sympathy (fickle as always) seems to be draining away from those who claim they have been abused by rich and famous men. Women who seek justice must be wondering if they should back off. They mustn’t. Nor should the police and CPS. The law cannot surrender to celeb power.