I cheated on my wife but I am no paedophile – Bill Roache
'Coronation Street' star William Roache admitted to a jury that he cheated on his first wife in the 1960s in "a series of relationships" but he was not a paedophile.
Roache (81) entered the witness box at Preston Crown Court to give evidence in his denial of two rapes and four indecent assaults, involving five complainants aged 16 or under.
During the period of the alleged offences between 1965 and 1971, he lived with actress wife Anna Cropper between a bungalow in Lancashire and a flat in London.
One of the alleged victims says Roache raped her at the bungalow in 1967 and then a second time at an adjoining cottage later the same year.
The defendant was asked about the end of his first marriage, which he said was in trouble from 1965 until 1969 when the couple got divorced.
"Were you faithful to Anna Cropper during that time?" asked his barrister Louise Blackwell QC.
"No, I was not, I'm sorry to say," Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the soap, replied.
He was then asked how often he had been unfaithful.
"Intermittently, There was a period in my marriage which was not as fulfilling as it should have been and I did have a series of relationships with people. I was looking for relationships."
Roache said he began a relationship with his second wife Sara Mottram in 1970 or 1971 and they were married in 1978.
Miss Blackwell asked if, "from the time of meeting" his second wife, he was faithful to her.
"Totally faithful. For 39 years until her death, I was totally and absolutely faithful."
Soon after he went into the witness box, Miss Blackwell asked Roache: "Have you committed any of the offences with which you have been charged?"
"No, I have not," Roache said.
Miss Blackwell asked: "Did you ever take a girl into the toilets as described and commit an indecent assault on her?"
Roache replied: "No, definitely not. Those toilets were in constant use, constant use."
Miss Blackwell asked: "When you were leaving the studio, do you remember specifically giving autographs yourself and inviting one of those people into your car?"
Roache was asked about the letter and signed photograph he sent to one of the complainants in June 1965 – shortly after the woman said he sexually assaulted her aged 14 after she competed in a talent show at Granada Studios.
He said it was "absolutely normal" that he sent her a photograph and wrote: "Love to (alleged victim), William Roache (Ken Barlow).
The letter started off by saying "Thank you for your marvellous letter".
Roache told the jury: "That is the sort of thing I would do if they had written a nice letter."
It added that he wanted her to "tell me more" when she returned to school.
Roache explained: "I used to like to personalise letters and obviously she had referred to something she had done at school here."
Miss Blackwell asked: "Did you write that letter with the intention of having personal face-to-face contact with her?"
"No, absolutely not," he replied. Miss Blackwell asked him: "Did you then have an interest in girls under the age of 16?"
Roache said: "No, absolutely not."
Anne Whyte QC, prosecuting, began her cross-examination with questions about Roache's sexual history.
"It appears from the evidence you gave that your marriage vows to Miss Cropper did not hold you back sexually from 1965?" she said.
Roache replied: "The marriage was not as fulfilling as it had been and yes I was having other sexual partners."
Miss Whyte said Roache quickly became the "heart throb" of 'Coronation Street' and in the mid-60s he had fame, celebrity and good looks.
She suggested this caused him to think he was "beyond sexual scrutiny".
"I don't understand the question," Roache replied.
"No, I'm sorry I was always very caring, always honest, even in the relationships I went into."
Roache continued: "I have always been very honest in my life. In various interviews I have always said I did have other relationships for which I was very remorseful.
"Once my relationship with Sara started (second wife) I was always totally faithful, there was no question of being out of control."
Miss Whyte asked: "In the 1960s you were plainly a man willing to take sexual risks?"
"No, I was having various relationships," Roache replied.