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Fugitive Catholic priest at centre of five-year manhunt arrested in Britain over historic sex abuse


Fugitive Catholic priest at centre of five-year manhunt arrested in Britain over historic sex abuse

By  Camilla Turner

From the Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/22/fugitive-catholic-priest-at-centre-of-five-year-manhunt-arrested/

Father Lawrence Soper has been arrested on suspicion of nine counts of historic sexual assaults CREDIT: MET POLICE

Father Lawrence Soper has been arrested on suspicion of nine counts of historic sexual assaults CREDIT: MET POLICE

A Catholic priest who skipped bail five years ago has been arrested on suspicion of nine counts of historic sexual assaults.

Father Laurence Soper, 72, the former abbot of Ealing Abbey, was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant over allegations of child abuse.

The accusations date back to when he taught at St Benedict’s School, a private independent Catholic school which is part of Ealing Abbey in west London.

In March 2011, Fr Soper was believed to have been living in a monastery in Rome and was due to return to London to answer bail but he failed to show up, sparking an international search.

After spending five years living as a fugitive, he was arrested in Kosovo in May.

However, attempts to bring him back the UK to face charges were thwarted when a Kosovan judge blocked the extradition order on the basis that his alleged crimes have expired in Kosovo, which has a 30-year statute of limitation.

On Sunday night, Scotland Yard announced that Fr Soper was arrested as he arrived back in the UK at Luton Airport from Kosovo.

A spokesman said he was “arrested on suspicion of nine offences of sexual assault committed over a period from 1972 to 1986”.

In 2011,  Lord Carlile of Berriew stripped monks of control at St Benedict’s School, which offered a “heartfelt apology for past failures”.

The peer said he hoped his decision to take powers away from Ealing Abbey would “set a template” for other schools.

In his inquiry into the sexual abuse, Lord Carlile outlined a catalogue of failures by the abbey to intervene as allegations of abuses came to light.

“I have come to the firm conclusion … that the form of governance of St Benedict’s School is wholly outdated and demonstrably unacceptable,” he wrote.

“The abbot himself has accepted that it is ‘opaque to outsiders’.”

The report added: “In a school where there has been abuse, mostly – but not exclusively – as a result of the activities of the monastic community, any semblance of a conflict of interest, of lack of independent scrutiny, must be removed.”

Catholic monk wanted over child sex abuse allegations has been arrested in Kosovo after FIVE YEARS on the run


Catholic monk wanted over child sex abuse allegations has been arrested in Kosovo after FIVE YEARS on the run 

  • Laurence Soper disappeared after alleged sex offences at Ealing Abbey
  • He was questioned by police in 2010 but he skipped bail and vanished
  • Has been caught in Pec, Kosovo after European Arrest Warrant was issued
Brother Laurence Soper has been arrested in Kosovo after five years on the run

Brother Laurence Soper has been arrested in Kosovo after five years on the run

A Catholic monk wanted over child sex abuse allegations has been arrested in Kosovo after five years on the run.

Laurence Soper went into hiding after being investigated for alleged sex offences at Catholic Ealing Abbey in London from 1991 to 2000.

Following allegations by a former pupil, Soper was arrested in Rome and questioned by appointment by the Metropolitan Police in September 2010.

However, investigators allowed him to retain his passport and did not take a picture, asking him through his solicitor to return to London from Italy where he worked.

Instead, after leaving St Anselmo Church on March 4, 2011, apparently to fly to Heathrow, Soper skipped bail and vanished.

He has now been apprehended in Pec, Kosovo after a European Arrest Warrant was issued for him in 2012.

The extradition process to return him to the UK is reportedly underway.

A Met Police spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the arrest and we are liaising with the relevant authorities’.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: ‘Our Embassy is providing assistance following the arrest of a British National in Peja, Kosovo on Wednesday 11 May.’

According to Albanian news outlet Albeu, Soper lived in Pec for years under the name Andrew Insajderit.

‘He lived in a house of a friend of mine. I have spoken and met with him several times. He said he was writing a book,’ a resident told the outlet.

Having worked for nearly 30 years at St Benedict’s, a £12,000-a-year private school attached to the Abbey, now-expelled monk Soper quit Britain in 2001 for Rome to become treasurer at the Benedictine Order’s headquarters at St Anselmo.

A source close to the investigation said in 2012: ‘He knew he was about to be charged.’