Published Tuesday, 14 January 2014
William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday. (© Getty)
Anne Whyte QC opened the case for the prosecution and alleged the defendant had the opportunity to prey on his victims and his stardom was one reason none of his young victims spoke of the abuse.
Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the long-running soap, denies five counts of indecent assault and two counts of rape involving five girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16.
The offences are said to have occurred between 1965 and 1971.
Miss White told the jury of eight women and four men at Preston Crown Court they were "bound to know" the defendant is a household name.
"It would be artificial to suggest that this fact should be divorced from this case because it cannot be," she said.
"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' decades of silence.
"But just as you must not judge or dismiss the complaints 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."
It is very important that you remember at all times that you are here to judge the man and not the part... he is William Roache, not Ken Barlow.
Anne Whyte QC
She continued: "He faces seven separate criminal charges. The allegations are made by five different women - each of them says that he sexually abused them during the 1960s.
"He denies that this is the case and your task will be to decide whether these women are telling the truth."
The barrister said the case concerned events which happened a long time ago but that did not mean the allegations were less important.
"If you think a victim of crime has lost the opportunity to complain because he or she did not complain at or near the time, please think again," she said.
"A crime is a crime, whenever it takes place."
The prosecutor said the first complainant in the case contacted the police last March.
She said: "In the context of discussing other sex scandals involving the late Cyril Smith and Jimmy Savile, her son had expressed disbelief about how long it had taken for victims of sexual offences to come forward.
"His mother tried to explain and in this case she knows. She eventually told her son about what had happened many years before with the defendant."
Her son told her to contact the police which she eventually did, said Miss Whyte.
Roache was arrested on 1 May and, after being interviewed, he was charged with two offences of rape.
The publicity that followed led to the other complainants coming forward.
Apart from two of the alleged victims who were sisters, there was nothing else to link any of the complainants, the court heard.
Miss Whyte said the Crown argues that this should be a "powerful factor" in the jury's assessment of the evidence.
The trial continues.
© UTV News