‘William Roache pinned girl against wall’

William Roache (2nd R), arrives with his family at Preston Crown Court yesterday. Picture: Reuters
William Roache (2nd R), arrives with his family at Preston Crown Court yesterday. Picture: Reuters
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Coronation Street star William Roache wrote a letter to a 14-year-old girl weeks after he indecently assaulted her and asked her to reply “when you start school again”, a jury has heard.

Giving evidence, the complainant said Roache forced her to perform a sex act on him in the gents’ toilets at Granada Studios in Manchester in the summer of 1965. She had visited the studio with a friend to take part in a children’s talent show, Preston Crown Court heard.

Speaking from the witness box, she recalled how she met Roache – who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap – in a dressing room before he later pulled her into the nearby toilets.

Weeks later she said she received a letter and signed photograph from the actor.

It read: “Dear [the alleged victim], thank you for your marvellous letter and the nice things you said in it.

“I am enclosing a photo which I hope you like. I am away for three weeks now but I would like a letter from you waiting for me when I get back. Write to me when you start school again and tell me more.

“Love Bill xx.”

Prosecutor Anne Whyte asked her: “How did that make you feel?”

The woman replied: “I suppose I was flattered at the attention. I didn’t understand some of it. I had not written a letter. I left a note as well as my address.

“The ‘tell me more’ didn’t make sense.”

When questioned by Louise Blackwell QC, defending Roache, the witness said she could not remember many details about how she allegedly got to be alone in the gents’ toilets with Roache or any detail of a conversation they may have had. Miss Blackwell said: “Would you agree, you have some very alarming lapses in your memory about these events?”

“No, I don’t agree,” the witness replied. “I think it would be strange if I remembered every detail of 50 years ago. I remember the unusual things that stand out in my mind, the unique things.”

The Crown say Roache “took full advantage of his stardom” to sexually abuse five young girls.

Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies five historic counts of indecent assault and two historic counts of rape involving the complainants who were aged 16 and under. The offences are said to have occurred between 1965 and 1971.

Later, the court heard from a second alleged victim, who branded Roache a “dirty old man”.

The woman, now a pensioner, said she was watching the ITV soap with her husband who remarked Roache was “OK”.

“I said he wasn’t,” the witness said, “I said he’s a dirty old man, is what I said.”

The witness told the jury she was aged 16 when she said she was groped by Roache in the ladies’ toilets at Granada Studios in 1965.

“As I went in I suddenly was aware of somebody behind me and I turned round and he was right in my face, absolutely right in front of me. I could not move.

“He more or less pinned me against the back of the wall,” she said. “He put his hand underneath my jumper and squeezed my boob. It was very quick.”

She confided in her husband about 20 years ago, jurors heard.

“I told him because we were watching Coronation Street,” she said. “My children know as well.”

The witness said she had told a number of people about the allegation last year while out with her husband and friends for a Chinese meal. She made her complaint to the police in May last year after she saw a television report on the rape allegations that the defendant faced.

“I thought to myself how brave she was to do it,” she said.

“I thought that if I told my experience it might lend some credence towards her allegations. I felt if he could do that to me, he could that to her.”

Roache denies any sexual activity ever took place with any of the alleged victims.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow morning.