FIFTEEN defendants from Keighley and Bradford have appeared in court charged with the rape or sexual abuse of a girl under 16.

The charges, brought by West Yorkshire Police on May 26, are historic in nature, with the offences alleged to have occurred between May 2011 and June 2012.

The majority of the allegations relate to one female victim who was aged between 13 and 14 at the time.

One charge relates to a second victim, who was 15 when the alleged offence occurred between January and May 2009.

All but one of the defendants have been charged with at least one offence of rape, and all appeared at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court today, either in person or via videolink.

There was a large police presence at the court, amid fears of a possible demonstration outside the building.

Superintendent Damien Miller, who leads neighbourhood operations at Bradford District Police, said: "Police were made aware of a proposal to stage a demonstration outside Bradford Magistrates Court and this was taken into consideration when making arrangements for the day."

Khalid Mahmood, 34, faces five allegations of rape, and appeared in court via videolink from Ashfield Prison in South Gloucestershire.

Yasser Kabir, 24, of Belgrave Road, Keighley, also appeared via videolink to answer four allegations of rape.

Tauqueer Hussain, 23, of Belgrave Road, Keighley, also faces four allegations of rape.

He appeared in the dock with Bilal Ziarab, 20, of Sedgwick Close, Manningham, Bradford, and Sufyan Ziarab, 22, of Kendal Mellor Court, Keighley, who each face two allegations of rape.

Rohail Iqbal, 21, of Skipton Road, Beechcliffe, and Rohail Hussain, 18, of Hawk Street, Lawkholme, Keighley, both face one allegation of rape.

Nasir Khan, 23, of Buxton Street, Keighley, faces three allegations of rape, and he appeared in the dock with Saqib Younis, 29, of Bradford Street, Lawkholme, Keighley, Mohammed Sardar, 18, of Bradford Street, Lawkholme, Keighley, Zain Ali, 20, of Buxton Street, Keighley, and Faisal Khan, 27, also of Buxton Street, who all face two allegations of rape.

Isra Ali, 19, of Devonshire Street West, Keighley, faces two allegations of rape, and was remanded in custody following today's hearing.

Mohammed Akram, 62, of Holker Street, Keighley, pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual activity with a child under 16.

A 16-year-old boy faces an allegation of rape, but cannot be named.

District Judge Susan Bouch transferred the cases of all 15 defendants to a preliminary hearing at Bradford Crown Court on July 13, granting bail to all except Mahmood, Kabir and Isra Ali.

All defendants bar Akram, who formally entered a not guilty plea during the hearing, indicated they would be entering not guilty pleas to the charges faced.

A trial has been provisionally scheduled to take place towards the end of the year.