CORONATION STREET's William Roache: 'I Strenuously Deny' Rape Allegations

A longtime star of British soap opera CORONATION STREET has vowed to fight charges he raped a 15-year-old girl in 1967.

William Roache said in a statement Thursday he is "deeply horrified" by the charges and "strenuously" denies them.

"I am astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events of the last 24 hours. 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 81-year-old actor has played Ken Barlow on the popular show since it was first broadcast in 1960. The soap, set in a fictional working-class district in northwestern England, is among the longest-running programs on British television.

He is charged with raping the girl between April and July of 1967. He is scheduled to appear at Preston Magistrates' Court on May 14.

Roache was arrested at his home Wednesday. Broadcaster ITV said Roache wouldn't appear in CORONATION STREET until his legal case was over.

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