Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, who has been charged with 19 child sex offences, said he is innocent of all charges and will “fight them vigorously”.
Le Vell, aged 48, whose real name is Michael Turner, is accused of 19 sex offences including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.
He said: “I would like to make it quite clear that following the serious allegations that have been brought against me on Thursday 14 Feb 2013, I am innocent of these charges and intend to fight them vigorously.
“I will now put all my efforts into clearing my name and proving my innocence.
“I thank my friends, family and fans for their continued support.
“I would ask now for time to concentrate on preparing my defence with my legal team.”
ITV has already said the actor will not be appearing in any further episodes of the soap pending the outcome of legal proceedings.
An ITV spokesman said: “Given the serious nature of these charges, Michael Le Vell will not be appearing in Coronation Street pending the outcome of legal proceedings. It would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
Le Vell, a stalwart on the popular ITV series in his role as car mechanic Kevin Webster, will appear in court in two weeks’ time, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.
He was first arrested in Sept 2011 and questioned over alleged child sex offences, but the matter was later dropped.
But late on Thursday night, GMP said the actor, from Hale, Cheshire, had been charged with sex offences against a youngster after a review of evidence by lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Alison Levitt, QC, principal legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions, had reviewed a file of evidence in relation to allegations of sexual offences and looked again at a decision previously made not to prosecute.
Le Vell, a father of two, was not charged with offences after his initial arrest in Sept 2011 and the investigation was dropped three months later in late December, when the authorities said there would be no further action taken against him as there was not enough evidence to charge him.
At the time the actor said he was “delighted” to have been “completely exonerated”, thanked police for their “thorough” investigation and Coronation Street staff and the public for their support.
Le Vell is one of TV’s most famous faces after playing Webster for the past 30 years.
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