Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

TV's Roache denies girl sex attacks

William Roache has pleaded not guilty to committing historic sexual offences

Coronation Street star Bill Roache has pleaded not guilty to committing historic sexual offences against five girls.

The 81-year-old actor formally denied the charges in a hearing at Preston Crown Court.

The veteran soap star was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in May and charged with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in East Lancashire in 1967.

He was later additionally charged with five indecent assaults involving four girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16, allegedly committed in the Manchester area between 1965 and 1968.

Roache entered the dock and confirmed his name to the clerk.

The indictment containing the seven counts was then read out to him and on each allegation he responded with a firm, clear answer of "not guilty".

Roache's trial will begin at Preston Crown Court on January 14 and is scheduled to last four weeks.

He remains on bail with various conditions including residence, no direct unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 and not to approach named witnesses.

When he was initially charged, Roache said he was "astounded and deeply horrified" by the accusations and vowed to "strenuously deny" the allegations.

The world's longest-serving soap actor, he has played Ken Barlow in the ITV1 soap since its launch but will not be appearing in the programme until legal proceedings are concluded.

Roache made no comment to the media as he left the building following the 30-minute hearing in front of the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC.

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