15 Jan 2014

Actor William Roache on trial

7:46 am on 15 January 2014

British television actor William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street since the first episode in 1960, has gone on trial facing counts of rape and sexual assault on young girls.

The prosecution alleges he used his fame to carry out the assaults and silence his victims, AFP reports.

The 81-year-old denies five counts of indecent assault and two counts of rape involving five girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16. The offences are said to have occurred between 1965 and 1971.

William Roache denies charges of indecent assault and rape.

William Roache (second from left) denies charges of indecent assault and rape. Photo: AFP

Prosecutor Anne White, opening the case against him, said two of the alleged victims are sisters, but otherwise women who do not know each other were complaining about his behaviour from the same time period.

In 1965, one 14-year-old visiting a television studio was led to a toilet where he made her commit a sex act on him, while another alleged victim was fondled in a toilet, Ms White said.

One alleged victim, a 15-year-old virgin at the time in 1967, was raped in a bedroom. The actor is alleged to have given another girl a lift in his car and to have made her commit a sex act on him, before giving her half a crown for a bus fare home.

The trial at Preston Crown Court in north-west England is scheduled to last up to four weeks.