William Roache 'sent victim signed photo'

William Roache indecently assaulted a 14-year-old girl in a toilet and then sent her a signed photo of him, a court has heard.

The 'Coronation Street' actor - who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap - attended the first day of his trial at Preston Crown Court yesterday (14.01.14) accused of two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967 and five counts of indecent assault involving four girls, aged from 11 to 16, between 1965 and 1968, all of which he ''strenuously'' denies.

Prosecutors claim William, 81, allegedly led the 14-year-old girl to the male toilets, without speaking, at Granada Studios in Manchester and then made her perform a sex act on him before returning to his dressing room. He is said to have later sent her a letter and a signed photograph.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC claimed sending the picture ''was a sort of grooming as we nowadays know it''.

The court heard the alleged victim is now 63 years old. The jury heard she was 14 at the time and visiting the studios with a friend in 1965 to take part in a talent show.

Speaking about the alleged incident, Miss Whyte said: ''She had been stunned by what had occurred and went home.''

Miss Whyte claimed that in the same year William approached a 16-year-old girl in the ladies' toilets at Granada Studios and started to ''fondle'' her breasts.

The court also heard he allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl in 1967 in a cottage he owned, and between 1968 and 1971 he allegedly groomed two sisters aged around 12 and 14.

The prosecution claimed he once put his hand up the skirt of the older sibling in his dressing room at Granada Studios - where 'Coronation Street' used to be filmed - and he allegedly made the younger sister, who is now 57, perform a sex act on him after giving her and a friend a lift in his Rolls-Royce.

Before the trial began, Judge Mr. Justice Tim Holroyde QC told potential jurors that it is the actor who is on trial rather than his 'Coronation Street' character.

He told the panel they must put Ken Barlow out of their minds to ensure a ''fair and independent judgement'' can be reached.

Following his comments, a jury of eight women and four men were selected.

William arrived at court dressed in a blue suit flanked by a security guard and his two sons, Linus and James, who sat in the public gallery.

'Coronation Street' stars including Anne Kirkbride - who plays William's on-screen wife Deirdre Barlow in the ITV soap - Chris Gascoyne, who plays his on-screen son Peter Barlow, and Helen Worth (Gail Platt) are among the defence witnesses who will be called during the trial, jurors were told.

William has not appeared in 'Coronation Street' since he was charged.

The trial, which is expected to last up to four weeks, continues.

15-01-2014

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