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LONDON (AP) - Police have charged a longtime star of the British soap opera "Coronation Street" with child sex offenses including rape and indecent assault.

Michael Le Vell, who has played mechanic Kevin Webster on the show for 30 years, faces 19 charges. Police say the charges relate to offenses against a child between 2001 and 2010.

The actor released a statement Friday saying he would vigorously contest the charges.

"I will now put all my efforts into clearing my name and proving my innocence," he said.

He was originally arrested and questioned in 2011, but released without charge. Prosecutors said Friday they had overturned that decision.

The 48-year-old actor, whose real name is Michael Turner, is due in court Feb. 27.

The soap, set in a fictional working-class district in northwestern England, is one of the most popular programs on British television.

Broadcaster ITV said Le Vell would not appear in any episodes of "Coronation Street" pending the outcome of his trial.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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