Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell to face trial over child rape charges
Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has made his first appearance in court accused of child sex offences.
The star, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court under his real name of Michael Turner.
The 48-year-old has been charged with 19 offences including six counts of raping a child, six allegations of indecently assaulting a child and seven counts of sexual activity with a child.
The alleged offences relate to one complainant and all took place between 2001 and 2010, the court was told. During the eight-minute hearing, the defendant spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.
Four members of his family sat towards the back of the court on seats usually reserved for officials as the public gallery was packed with members of the media.
District Judge Khalid Qureshi asked Le Vell's solicitor, Richard Gowthorpe, if there was any indication of plea, to which he replied: "No indication of plea today other than the fact that the charges are contested, and will be fully contested in the Crown Court."
The matter was adjourned to Manchester Crown Court on March 20. Le Vell was bailed on condition he surrenders his passport, does not contact witnesses and does not have unsupervised contact with a child under 14. He made no comment as he left court.
Le Vell was first arrested in September 2011 and questioned over alleged child sex offences, but the matter was later dropped.
Earlier this month the Crown Prosecution Service said it was in the public interest to charge him with the current offences.
ITV said he will not be appearing in any further episodes pending outcome of legal proceedings.
In a statement following his arrest, Le Vell, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, said he was innocent of the charges.
Michael Le Vell, a father-of-two, is one of TV's most famous faces after playing car mechanic Kevin Webster for 30 years. He joined Coronation Street in 1983 and endeared himself to fans who have followed Kevin's trials and tribulations from Brian Tilsley's apprentice through to his stormy marriage to Sally. Le Vell split from wife Janette Beverley last year.