When I heard, as I am certain was the case for millions of other people around the world, that the rape trial of Bill Roache – AKA Ken Barlow of Coronation Street fame – had concluded with this icon of respectability being found not guilty on all counts, by a jury of his peers, I was mightily relieved. The simple fact is that the Crown Prosecution Service had elected to go ahead with a case that was at best flimsy, in which five anonymous women gave at best sketchy and inconsistent details of sexual abuse crimes that had happened over forty years ago.
The jury foreman had no choice, in reality, but to announce the not guilty verdicts, but this mean the poor man is exonerated? Not in the eyes of the world in general, and therein lies the real tragedy of cases such as these. Once the accusation has been made, whether it be based in fact, or simply malicious lies, the accused is painted with a permanent marker, to the extent that they may as well have had the words SEX ABUSER tattooed on their foreheads, yet those making such accusations are allowed in law to remain anonymous, and can return to normal lives once the trial is over.
I have personally come close to being the victim of such unfair and completely fabricated accusations, in a bitter dispute over visitation rights to my children, nearly twenty years ago now. Their mother and I had divorced acrimoniously, and I was grudgingly allowed to spend a couple of hours with them, once a fortnight, for an hour or two. So hostile to me was my ex-wife that she would not stay in the house during these visits, but instead get her ten years younger sister to act as guard bitch, and believe me I do not use that word lightly.
The trouble flared when, having settled with a new partner and passed my driving test, I made the not unreasonable request that in future, I be allowed sometimes to take my two children out for a couple of hours, maybe for a MacDonald’s, or whatever, but without the chaperon. This immediately – or at least within a very short time – prompted my bitter former partner to inform me that, should I pursue this wish, her younger sister would accuse me of sexual molestation whilst she had still been a minor, and that she herself would accuse me of sexually molesting my young son.
I was horrified and astounded at the level of hatred and vitriol that was emanating from these two accusers, prepared to sling this totally false heap of mud all over me, knowing full well I would never be able to wash it off. Even if they could never prove their lies, the fact that they had been uttered in the first place would have been enough to taint my name forever after. Of course, in the face of such mean-spirited and downright malicious opposition, I had no choice but to back off, and soon after that, my children told me that they no longer me to visit them at all. That was twenty years ago, and I have since then seen them only rarely.
That for me is the terrible moral dilemma that such cases present, and Bill Roache will have to spend years being as anonymous as he now can, to try living down the stigma of these unproven allegations, id indeed he ever can. Why can it not be the case that anybody, in the position of being accused of what are heinous and terrible crimes, should be allowed to remain anonymous, like the accusers, until the jury have concluded that they are indeed guilty of the offences with which they have been charged? Then at least, those falsely subjected to this life-changing torture could get their normal lives back, knowing their reputations remain unsullied. This is, in my humble opinion, a moral dilemma that urgently needs addressing, before many more lives are quite possibly damaged irreparably, because the current system is so unfair.
I have been writing for pleasure for half a century, but only started writing for money around 1994. Since then I have had a few thousand articles, stories and poems published on line and in print all round the world.
I am now 63 years old, male, from Burnley in the UK, and apart from writing, I love to read - mainly crime thrillers, conspiracy theory books and science fiction, though I also love films, gardening and chatting with my wife who is also my best friend.
I enjoy feedback from readers, and interaction with fellow writers. Anyone who gets in touch with me will get a reply. I am always happy to read and comment upon the work of others, as I think we writers are something of a definite sub-species of humanity!