13:36 14 January 2014
Veteran Coronation Street star Bill Roache, who has been accused of committing historic sexual offences against five girls, saw his trial begin on Tuesday.
The 81-year-old soap star, who denied all the charges, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire last May.
He was then charged with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in Rossendale in 1967.
He was also charged with additional five indecent assaults, this time involving four girls aged 11 or 12 and 16. According to the victims, the incidents happened between 1965 and 1968 in the Manchester area.
Roache, who is famed for being the longest serving cast member on ITV soap Coronation Street in which he plays the area’s ageing lothario Ken Barlow, stated: "I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead.
"I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time."
The trial, which is being held at Preston Crown Court, is scheduled to take four weeks to complete.
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