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Coronation Street star William Roache is standing trial accused of committing historic sexual offences against five girls.
The 81-year-old veteran soap star was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, last May and later charged with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in Rossendale in 1967.
A month later he was additionally charged with five indecent assaults involving four girls aged 16 and under, allegedly committed in the Manchester area between 1965 and 1971.
Mr Roache denies all the allegations
Dean Kirby is at Preston Crown Court covering the proceedings.
I'm at Preston Crown Court where Coronation Street actor William Roache is due to stand trial on allegations of historic sex offences against five girls. The court room is filling up and the case is expected to start shortly.
The court has been hearing legal discussions. The jury is expected to be sworn in later this morning and then prosecutor Anne Whyte QC will begin outlining the prosecution case.
Among those sitting in the public gallery are William Roache's sons Linus and James, and former Coronation Street actor Nigel Pivaro.
William Roache is charged with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in 1967 and five counts of indecently assaulting four girls aged 16 and under, allegedly committed between 1965 and 1971. He stands in the dock to deny the charges.
After a morning of legal discussions, a jury of four men and eight women has now been sworn in.
Mr Justice Holroyde told jurors they must be able to put the Coronation Street character Ken Barlow out of their minds.
He said: "It is not the fictional character who is in court. It is the real person William Roache who is on trial. Each member of the jury must separate the fictional TV character from the real person."
Anne Whyte QC will outline the prosecution case after lunch.
The court has heard that defence witnesses will include Anne Kirkbride, who plays Deirdre Barlow in the soap, along with Helen Worth who plays Gail Platt and Chris Gascoyne who plays Peter Barlow.
We'll bring you all the latest from Preston Crown Court this afternoon. The prosecution are expected to open their case after 2pm.
We're now told the case proper will start at 2.45pm.
Anne Whyte QC is now opening the case for prosecution. She tells the jury: "William Roache is an actor. He has spent much of his adult life playing a part. You are here to judge the man and not the part. Mr Roache presents a fictional image of himself for a living - it is a skill which is central to his work and fame. But in this room, with you, he is William Roache, not Ken Barlow. He is the defendant and you are the jury."
She adds: "You are bound to know that this defendant is a household name. You may well conclude by the end of this trial that William Roache's fame and popularity provided not only the opportunity for his offending but that it is one of the predominant reasons for his victims' silence."
Ms Whyte adds: "But just as you must not judge or dismiss the complainants because they took so long to complain, so you must not favour or condemn the defendant simply because you have heard of him or because he is over 80. Favour or condemn him on the evidence, not because he plays Ken Barlow. Do not be diverted from the integrity of your task and oath just because he is William Roache."
The court is told one of the alleged victims was 14 when she went to Granada Studios to take part in a talent competition. It is claimed she encountered the defendant while exploring the studios afterwards.
Ms Whyte says the girl and her friend ended up in a dressing room with the defendant and other actors. She said the alleged victim 'felt flattered' by the attention.
It is claimed William Roache took her by the arm and led her to the men's toilet, where he indecently assaulted her. It is claimed Roache asked her for her address. Ms Whyte says she was 'stunned' by what had occurred and went home.
It is claimed William Roache later sent her a signed photograph of himself. The prosecution say that this was not the 'benign personal touch' of a well-known young male actor.
It is claimed it was designed to impress a young school girl and to secure her 'unquestioning loyalty' for a sexual purpose. Ms Whyte says: "A sort of grooming as we would nowadays call it."
It is claimed the alleged victim returned to the studio later the same year and the defendant arranged to meet her in his car. It is claimed William Roache asked her when she would be 16 and whether she had performed oral sex. It is claimed she said 'No' and the William Roache said he would wait until she was 16. It is claimed he also sexually assaulted her in the car
Ms Whyte says: "These incidents demonstrate perhaps the complexity, or perhaps on another view the simplicity of what you will be tasked to deal with. No kicking, no screaming, no immediate verbal challenge - a continuing sense of being flattered by what at the time felt like attention but was in fact something far more sinister and opportune."
The court hears another alleged victim was in a ladies' toilet at Granada Studios in 1965 when it is claimed William Roach walked in behind her and pushed his hand up her jumper and started to fondle her. It is claimed the girl, who was then 16, ran away.
Ms Whyte says another alleged victim was 15 in 1967 when it is claimed William Roache raped her . It is claimed the defendant pushed her on to a bed at his home and that she felt 'panic stricken'. It is claimed the defendant later raped her again the same year after pushing her against a wall.
The court hears that another alleged victim was under 16 when she was sexually assaulted by William Roache. It is claimed she waited outside the studios trying to get a glimpse of the cast in the school summer holidays and her attendances caught his eye and he offered to get her a pass to enter the studios.
It is claimed he gave the girl and her sister a lift home in his Rolls Royce, which made them 'feel special'. It is claimed that later at the studios he was still wearing his make up and stage clothes when he pushed against her and sexually assaulted her.
The court also hears claims that Roache also attacked the girl's sister by placing her hand in his trousers while giving her a lift home in his car. Ms Whyte says she was 'frozen and petrified'. It is claimed William Roache stopped the car, gave her half a crown and told her to get the bus.
The court has been told that William Roache told police after his arrest he had a 'sensitive and caring nature'. He denied all the allegations when he was interviewed. It is alleged he said he had taken the opportunity to sleep with many women with their consent but he had never sought out girls under 16 because they did not interest him sexually. Ms Whyte said: "He is saying absolutely none of it happened because he would not want it to. It is the Crown's case that William Roache took advantage of his stardom and took advantage of these complainants at a time in his life when he thought he could."
That brings today's proceedings to a close. The prosecution case will resume tomorrow.