Andrew Soper, 74, a former abbot and headmaster, was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in prison for molesting children. He was found guilty of 19 counts of indecent assault against ten boys who attended St Benedict’s Middle School in Ealing between 1975 and 1982.
“He fled to Kosovo with £182,000 from the Vatican bank in a bid to avoid responsibility for the abuse at fee-paying St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London,” the Daily Mail reported. “But the former Ealing abbot and headmaster, known as Father Laurence, was extradited to face 19 charges of indecent assault and buggery against 10 former pupils.”
According to prosecutor Gillian Etherton QC, victims were subjected to sadistic beatings for “fake reasons” like kicking a football in the wrong direction or using the wrong staircase. This would lead to a caning and sexual assault.
From Met Police
Detective Superintendent Ang Scott, from Operation Winter Key, said: “Soper abused his position of trust as headmaster of a middle school over a sustained period of time. Throughout the investigation he has attempted to evade justice by leaving the UK and then failing to answer his bail.
“I would like to pay tribute to the victims in this case for the bravery they have showed in coming forward and reporting these offences and giving evidence at court. Although it can never make up for the emotional and psychological trauma caused by Soper’s crimes, I hope the sentence handed to him today can give them some form of closure. This case demonstrates that perpetrators of sexual abuse, no matter how long ago it took place, can be prosecuted and subjected to a custodial sentence.”
Soper told the jury he was innocent, and went on the run out of “stupidity and cowardice” afraid his life’s work would be wrecked.
“If you want to destroy a priest, vicar, anybody, all you have to do is make an accusation up against them. Their future is ruined, their character is ruined,” he said.