7 Feb 2014

Coro star cleared of sex charges

7:44 pm on 7 February 2014

Coronation Street actor William Roache has been cleared of rape and indecent assault charges by a jury.

The 81-year-old from Wilmslow in Cheshire was found not guilty of two rapes and four indecent assaults after a trial lasting three weeks at Preston Crown Court.

William Roache outside court last month.

William Roache outside court last month. Photo: AFP (file)

Mr Roach has played Ken Barlow in the British programme since the show began in 1960.

Five women had claimed he assaulted them when they were aged 16 or under between 1965 and 1971.

Outside court, he said: "In these situations there are no winners... we should be much kinder to ourselves." He added: "If you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work."

His family, who had accompanied him to court throughout the trial, cried with relief as the verdicts were read out.

Mr Roache was previously cleared of a fifth indecent assault charge after the judge said there was a lack of evidence, the BBC reports.

During the trial, Mr Roache denied knowing any of his accusers and said he had never had a sexual interest in under-age girls. Several of his co-stars testified as character witnesses.

The women claimed he indecently assaulted them in the toilets and dressing rooms at Granada Studios in Manchester, as well as in his car.

The jury comprised eight women and four men.

ITV said it would be discussing the actor's future in Coronation Street shortly. In a statement, the company said: "We look forward to talking to Bill soon about his return to work."