William Roache, an 81-year-old soap opera actor, was charged on Wednesday with the decades-old rape of an underage girl.
According to British prosecutors, Roache was charged Wednesday with two counts of rape for a girl age 15 in 1967.
"We have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr. Roache to be charged with two offenses of rape relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1967," prosecutor Nazir Afzal in a statement.
Roache plays Ken Barlow on popular British soap opera “Coronation Street” and has been dubbed the world’s longest-serving soap actor by Guinness World Records. The achievement records book noted that Roache’s character debuted on the first-ever episode of the series in 1960. Roache was given the title by Guinness in January 2010.
The actor was arrested on Wednesday after suspicions of the decades-old rape charge sometime between April 1967 and July 1967. He will appear in northern England’s Preston Magistrates’ Court on May 14.
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According to the Bellingham Herald, Roache’s arrest comes months after the actor made some controversial comments on a New Zealand news program back in March. The actor reportedly said on TVNZ's One News that victims of childhood sexual abuse and assault deserve it for mistakes they’ve made in previous lives. Roache also said that the public should be “totally forgiving” to those who assault these young people, especially famous men who could be “caught in the trap” when it comes to sleeping with underage girls.
"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," he said.
Host Garth Bray then asked, "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, and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever.''
After the controversial remarks, which upset the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, or Napac, Roache was forced to apologize for his remarks about rape.
"I would like to say that I am very sorry for any offense that has been caused as a result of my comments,” he said. "I would never say that victims of sexual offenses 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 offenses and pedophilia.''
His banter and arrest comes almost two years after BBC television presenter Jimmy Savile was accused of sex crimes in the UK in 2011. British authorities have arrested countless celebrities after the Savile scandal, though the charges against Roache appear to be unrelated, Reuters reports.