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Roache 'Attacked Victim In Men's Toilet'
A young girl was left "bewildered" after being indecently assaulted by Coronation Street actor William Roache in the men's toilets of a television studio, a court has heard.
The alleged victim, now 63, is the first witness to give evidence in the trial of the 81-year-old actor, who denies five counts of indecent assault and two counts of rape.
The witness told the jury that, in May 1965 when she was 14, she and a friend travelled to the Granada Television studios in Manchester to sing in a talent competition.
But, after failing to progress in the audition, the witness told the court that the pair "went exploring".
"We went down corridors wandering about looking for anybody or anything of interest," she told Preston Crown Court.
She said they spotted William Roache and fellow actor Alan Rothwell, who played Ken Barlow's onscreen brother David, in a dressing room and they were invited inside.
"We were two excited young teenagers who had just failed an audition," she said.
The atmosphere was "quite chatty", she said. "We were full of our recent experiences and just excited to be in the company of a famous actor.
"We were probably a little taken a back and excited and flattered, I suppose, that they were actually talking to us and interested in what we were doing."
The court heard that the alleged victim and William Roache ended up alone in a corridor of the studio building.
"He pulled me by my arm into another room. Not so as to cause any injury or harm just roughly, grabbed by arm.
"He opened another door and that turned out to be the men's toilets. I was pulled in. I was taken aback, wasn't quite sure why I was there. I was in the wrong place, I shouldn't have been there.
"The next thing I remember about that situation was I was standing with him."
She told the court that William Roache then carried out an indecent assault.
"It was outside my experience. I was shocked. I really didn't understand what was going on. The one thing I really understood was that I shouldn't have been in the gents.
"I was frightened of causing a fuss because we shouldn't have been there.
"I think I was on autopilot, just following instructions. I was still bewildered by what had happened. I was a bit ashamed."
The girls then caught a bus and did not speak about what had happened.
"It was a relief that we had the audition to chat about. I was still trying to come to terms with what had happened."
The court heard how the girl wrote to William Roache.
One letter from Mr Roache in reply to the youngster read: "Thank you for your marvellous letter and the nice things you said in it. I am enclosing a photo which I hope you will 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"
The teenager was later invited to visit the Coronation Street set by Mr Roache including a visit to the soap's famous pub, the Rovers Return.
The court heard how Mr Roache then arranged to pick up the youngster in his car around the corner from the Granada Studios on Quay Street, Manchester.
They drove to the suburb of Heaton Chapel, the jury heard.
She said the actor quizzed her about her level of sexual experience and "checked" her age, the jury heard.
"I remember being parked there and some of the conversation that we had.
"He said to me: 'I won't do it properly until you're 16.' I took it to mean sex, intercourse," she told the court.
The second complainant to give evidence said she was aged 16 when she was allegedly groped by Roache in the ladies' toilets at Granada Studios.
Describing the alleged incident, she said: "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. He put his hand underneath my jumper and squeezed my boob. It was very quick."
She said it was "a complete shock" he had touched her breast.
The witness said she had no further contact with Roache after she had darted out of the toilets.
The witness said she had not made the complaint earlier because it was her word against his and no-one would take any notice of her claim.
She confirmed she did not know any of the other complainants in the case.
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