Debate: After Bill Roache's arrest, should people charged with sex crimes be anonymous until proven guilty?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

The Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has been charged over two historic rape allegations against an underage girl who was 15 at the time of the alleged incidents.

Lancashire Police said the offences were alleged to have been committed in the Haslingden area of the county between April and July 1967.

The case has been reported widely across the media, but should Mr Roache's name have been withheld until the court gives a verdict?

Case for: Ruined

Innocent until proven guilty: that's difficult for the public to stick to when it comes to accusations of sex crimes. Just seeing someone's picture in the paper near the word 'rapist' is enough to turn the stomach, and the impression lingers. By the time the case has been heard, the accusations levelled, even an innocent verdict can do little to expunge the stain on a defendant's reputation.

Case against:

If a suspect is not named, other victims may never come forward. Savile's naming brought forward dozens more allegations. Moreover, why should rape cases be treated differently in court to those of murder and terrorism? All that granting anonymity to the accused would do is shroud justice for sex crime victims in secrecy; and given the appallingly low conviction rate for rape (just 6.5%) that would further stymie attempts to improve legal support for victims.