Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has said he is innocent of all child sex charges against him and will “fight them vigorously”.
Le Vell, who plays garage owner Kevin Webster in the ITV soap opera, is accused of 19 child sex offences, including child rape, and sexual activity with a child between 2001 and 2010, Greater Manchester Police said.
Le Vell, 48, a father-of-two whose real name is Michael Turner, will appear in court charged with the offences on February 27.
Le Vell said: “I would like to make it quite clear that following the serious allegations that have been brought against me on Thursday 14th February 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.”
ITV has dropped him from further episodes of the show.
A 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.”
The actor was initially arrested in connection with the offences in September 2011.
The investigation was dropped three months later when authorities said there would be no further action taken against him as there was not enough evidence.
However, following a review of the case by lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service the decision has been taken that it is in the “public interest” to charge the actor.
Speaking after the investigation against him was dropped in 2011, Le Vell 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 vowed to put the allegations behind him and returned to the show after a short break and is now currently involved in some of the soap’s main storylines.
Alison Levitt, QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, reviewed a file of evidence in relation to allegations of sexual offences and looked again at a decision previously made not to prosecute.
Ms Levitt said: “I have very carefully reviewed the evidence in this case and I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Michael Robert Turner with a number of sexual offences.
“I have authorised Greater Manchester Police to charge Mr Turner with 19 offences, including rape of a child.”
Le Vell, who split from his wife Janette Beverley last year, is one of television’s most famous faces after playing car mechanic Kevin Webster for the past 30 years in the TV show.
Originally from Manchester, he began his acting career in the Oldham Theatre Workshop after taking an interest in amateur dramatics while at school.
He first joined the soap in 1983 and quickly endeared himself to fans who have followed the trials and tribulations of Kevin, from Brian Tilsley’s apprentice mechanic through to his stormy marriage to Sally, played by Sally Dynevor, and fathering two teenage girls as well as a love child from his affair with Molly Dobbs.
The actor was first questioned over the child sex allegations in 2011