The veteran actor and Coronation Street star Bill Roache has vowed to “vigorously protest his innocence” over “deeply upsetting” child sex charges, his lawyer said today.
Lawyer Brian Russell was speaking outside Preston Magistrates' Court as the actor arrived to face new charges linked to allegations made in the wake of publicity surrounding his original arrest last month.
Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, has been charged with five indecent assaults on four girls between 1965 and 1968.
He is accused of sexually assaulting girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Thursday night.
Roache was charged last month with raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967. He has issued a statement saying he “strenuously” denied those allegations.
Bill Roache is the world's longest serving soap star having appeared in Coronation Street since it was first broadcast in 1960. He will not appear in the show until legal proceedings are concluded.
Speaking this morning as they arrived at court, Mr Roache's lawyer said: “Yesterday Mr Roache was interviewed at length at the police station and, as you know, was then charged with five offences of indecent assault.
“These allegations arose out of the publicity that was generated when Mr Roache was interviewed on May 1 for offences of rape.
“So during two lengthy police interviews Mr Roache has fully co-operated with all the questions that the police have had for him in relation to these matters.
“Today we expect those cases to be transferred to the Crown Court and there will be another appearance of a short nature on Monday.
“We expect that later this year, or possibly early next year, a jury will be asked to consider whether Mr Roache is guilty or not guilty of those charges.
“Mr Roache looks forward to standing before that jury where he will vigorously protest his innocence against what he regards as deeply upsetting allegations made against him.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I can't go into any more detail, it would be inappropriate at this stage.”