The Coronation Street actor William Roache wrote a letter to a 14-year-old fan after he indecently assaulted her, asking her to reply “when you start school again”, jurors were told.
Preston Crown Court heard the long-serving soap actor, now 81, had forced a girl to perform a sex act on him in the men’s toilets at Granada Studios in Manchester in the summer of 1965 after she had visited the studio with a friend to take part in a children’s talent show.
Speaking from the witness box, the woman now 63, said she met Mr Roache – who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street – in a dressing room before he pulled her into the nearby toilets. She said she had seen Mr Roache in the building and recognised him before ending up in a dressing room with the defendant and other actors.
She told jurors that Mr Roache had subsequently pulled her “roughly” in the direction of the toilets where she was allegedly assaulted. “My main worry was that I was in the gents’ toilets,” she told the court. “I was the one in the wrong place. I was shocked and I didn’t really understand what was going on, but the one thing I thoroughly understood was that I should not have been in the gents’.”
Weeks later, after leaving her address on a dressing room table, she said she received a letter and signed photograph from Mr Roache. It said: “I am enclosing a photo which I hope you like. I am away for three weeks now but I would like a letter from you waiting for me when I get back. Write to me when you start school again and tell me more. Love Bill xx.”
Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC described sending the letter as “a sort of grooming as we nowadays know it”.
The woman said that after receiving the letter she returned to the studios later in the year, telling the court that Mr Roache told her to wait outside and he would pick her up in his car. He later parked near a railway embankment in Stockport and she remembered Mr Roache asking about her age and when she would turn 16, she said.
She added that he also asked her if she had “ever had it in the mouth”. The woman said at the time she would not have understood what he had said. “I had no concept of oral sex at all,” she said.
A second complainant to give evidence said she was aged 16 when she was groped by Mr Roache in the ladies’ toilets at Granada Studios. Describing the alleged incident, she said: “As I went in I suddenly was aware of somebody behind me and I turned round and he was right in my face, absolutely right in front of me. I could not move.”
Mr Roache, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, is accused of taking “advantage of his stardom” to sexually abuse five young girls. He denies five historic counts of indecent assault and two historic counts of rape involving complainants who were aged 16 and under. The offences are alleged to have occurred between 1965 and 1971. The trial continues.