A rape support service has criticised as ‘disgusting’ the decision of a Croydon IT company to offer a discount to ‘celebrate’ William Roache being acquitted of rape and indecent assault charges.
Coronation Street star Mr Roache, also known as Ken Barlow in the popular television soap, was acquitted by a jury of eight women and five men at Preston Crown Court earlier today.
And shortly after the news came through the owner of SysFix IT Support, Paul Stanbra, posted details of a 25 per cent offer on the company’s website.
Explaining the deal online Mr Stanbra wrote: “I’m a great fan of Corrie so am very happy to see Mr Roache cleared of these charges.
“Since the Jimmy Saville scandal, it seems that lots of people are coming out of the woodwork to report incidents but how credible they are can only be discovered through a lengthy court hearing.
“I just hope that William will return to the soap and continue doing the great job he always has done.
“It’s a great day for British justice and I truly hope that the damage caused to Mr Roache’s reputation will soon start to heal and fade away.”
But the chief executive of the Rape Crisis South London rape and sexual abuse support centre, Yvonne Traynor, is appalled by the offer.
She said: “It’s disgusting for someone to turn this into a media opportunity.
“The public message that seems to come from previous cases is that false accusations are common but they are not as demonstrated by the CPS report from last year that false allegations of rape are rare.
“In our experience when there has been an acquittal, especially of a high profile man, there is an escalation of calls to our organisation.
"I’m just hoping that this will not deter other women from coming forward that have been raped.”
In response to her comments, Mr Stanbra said: "The 25 per cent discount offered to customers of Croydon for the acquittal of William Roach is in no way linked to a glorification of the escaping the judicial system.
"Rape is obviously a serious crime and should be treated as such no matter what your celebrity status is or age.
"The 'celebration discount' however is that we’re simply glad to see a much loved actor hopefully re-appear on our screens.
"William Roache has been proven innocent through the UK judicial system.
"To take offence at offering a special offer is ludicrous.
"We all know the seriousness of rape and would always actively encourage anyone dealing with a present or past form of sexual harassment to come forward and report it to the police."