Roache will 'vigorously protest his innocence' on child sex charges
'Coronation Street' star Bill Roache is looking forward to standing before a jury to "vigorously protest his innocence" of "deeply upsetting" child sex charges, his lawyer has said.
Brian Russell spoke 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.
Mr Roache (81), from Wilmslow, Cheshire, was arrested yesterday morning after attending a police station in Cheshire by appointment.
The new offences were alleged to have been committed in the Manchester area in 1965 and 1968 with the alleged victims aged between 11 or 12 and 16.
After Mr Roache was charged last month with raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967, he issued a statement saying he "strenuously" denied the allegations.
Mr Roache – the world's longest-serving soap actor – has played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap since its launch, but will not be appearing in the programme until legal proceedings are over.
Speaking as they arrived at court, Mr Russell said: "These allegations arose out of the publicity that was generated when Mr Roache was interviewed on May 1 for offences of rape.
"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."
Mr Roache was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court on Monday, when he is due to face an earlier charge of raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967.
Dressed in a blue suit, white shirt and a blue and grey tie, the actor sat in court behind his solicitor before he was asked to step into the witness box.
He exchanged greetings with Lona Smith, chair of the bench of magistrates, before he gave his full name – William Patrick Roache – his address, date of birth and the name of his legal representative.
Joanna White, prosecuting, said the eldest alleged victim was 16, one was 14, one was aged 13 or 14 at the time and the other was 11 or 12.