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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Corrie actor took advantage of his stardom, rape trial told

Published 15/01/2014 | 02:30

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William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court
William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court

'Coronation Street' star William Roache "took full advantage of his stardom" to sexually abuse five young girls, a jury has heard.

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His fame and popularity were said to have silenced his "star-struck" victims for decades until the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall scandals emerged.

Mr Roache (81) denies five historic counts of indecent assault and two historic counts of rape involving the complainants when they were aged between 11 or 12 and 16.

The offences are said to have occurred between 1965 and 1971, at a time when he had already achieved fame for playing Ken Barlow in the ITV soap.

The defendant allegedly used his celebrity status to "flatter" the girls, Preston Crown Court in north-west England was told.

A 14-year-old was sexually assaulted in the men's toilets of Granada Studios in Manchester after taking part in a talent show there, jurors heard.

Another victim was said to be a young autograph-hunter whom Roache abused in his silver Rolls-Royce before he stopped the car and "gave her half a crown (12.5p/15c) and told her to get to the bus home".

Anne Whyte, prosecuting, told the jury that William Roache was on trial -- not Ken Barlow.

The prosecutor said the first complainant in the case contacted the police last March.

Mr Roache was arrested on May 1 and was later charged with two offences of rape.

The publicity that followed led to the other complainants coming forward. The first alleged victim of Roache was aged 14 in 1965 when he is said to have indecently assaulted her at Granada Studios, Ms Whyte said.

He led her by the arm to the men's toilet, where he allegedly made her commit a sex act on him, the court was told.

The court then heard about the two most serious offences of rape.

The victim, aged 15 and a virgin at the time of the alleged offences in 1967, told police that she was at a house in Lancashire and "without any preliminaries" was led to a double bedroom where he pushed her on to a bed and had intercourse with her.

"He did not attempt to kiss her or sweet-talk her in any way," the prosecutor said.

"She describes it being uncomfortable and feeling panic-stricken. She had never had sex before."

UNDERAGE

Afterwards it was as if nothing had happened, the court heard.

The second time, at the same house, Roache is alleged to have pushed her against a wall and raped her once more.

"When it was over, she ran out," Ms Whyte said.

When interviewed by police, Roache denied he was a rapist and said he was "a peaceful and gentle person".

He told detectives that women had expressed a sexual interest in him over the years and he had taken the opportunity to sleep with many women.

But, he added, those encounters were all consensual and he did not have a sexual interest in underage girls.

The trial, scheduled to last up to four weeks, continues.

Kim Pilling and Pat Hurst

Irish Independent

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