Bill Roache
Bill Roache

The actor known to millions as Ken Barlow has said sex abusers "can be caught in a trap", and claimed victims bring the abuse on themselves because of their actions in previous lives.

Bill Roache, 80, propounded his bizarre views during a TV interview in New Zealand - as his Coronation Street co-star Michael Le Vell stands trial for 19 sexual offences including child rape.

Roache, who claims to have slept with 1,000 women, told TVNZ that celebrities are surrounded by "a fringe... particularly pop stars who have these groupies, these girls, who are sexually active and sexually mature.

"They don't ask for their birth certificate and they don't know what age they may be.

"They're certainly not grooming them and exploiting them but they can be caught in this trap."

Roache then revealed that he believed that negative energy was the root cause of abuse.

"If you accept that you are pure love ... and therefore live that pure love, these things won't happen to you."

Reporter Garth Bray pressed Roache to explain himself: "To some people that sounds perhaps like you're saying victims bring things on themselves. Is that what you're saying?"

Roache answered: "No, not quite, but then yes I am. Everything that happens to us is the result of what we have been in previous lives."

When asked about Le Vell, who has stepped down his role as Kevin Webster in the long-running soap, Roache insisted: "Everyone is innocent until they're proven guilty.

"These people are instantly stigmatised. Some will be innocent and some will not, but until such time as (any offence) is proven, there should be anonymity for both.

"If someone has done something wrong, the law should take its course. But whether they're proven guilty or not, we should never be judgmental about anyone.

"We shouldn't go round condemning. We should be forgiving about everything."