A funeral director is facing allegations of sexually assaulting six children over four decades.
Gerald Martin appeared at Teesside Crown Court to answer 17 charges against boys aged 16 or under.
No pleas were taken from Martin, of Mason and Gerald Martin Funeral Directors in Park Road, Hartlepool.
Jamie Hill QC, defending, said all the charges are denied.
Peter Makepeace QC, prosecuting, said a final indictment would be available to be put to Martin at the next hearing.
Judge Simon Phillips QC adjourned the case for a plea hearing to be held on June 13.
A trial date of July 17 has already been set.
Martin, 66, of Valley Close, Hartlepool, was released on unconditional bail in the meantime.