Former priest convicted of abusing 10 boys in 1970s and 1980s

|News, Sexual offences

A former priest has been convicted of abusing 10 boys at a Catholic-run school in the 1970s and 1980s. He then fled to Kosovo to escape justice.

Andrew Soper, 74, formerly known as Father Laurence Soper, was found guilty today (6 December) of 19 individual rape and sexual offences after a trial at the Old Bailey.

He sexually abused 10 boys while a master in charge of discipline at St Benedict’s School in Ealing. He would abuse them shortly after subjecting them to corporal punishment using a cane.

His first victim came forward in 2004, after Soper had left his role as Abbot of Ealing Abbey and moved to Benedictine headquarters in Rome, but was initially told by police there was insufficient evidence.

Soper was later interviewed by appointment at Heathrow police station in 2010 but fled to Kosovo while on police bail in 2011. He was arrested at Luton Airport in August 2016 after being deported by the Kosovan authorities.

London CPS lawyer Tetteh Turkson said: "Soper abused his position as a teacher and as a priest to abuse children for his own sexual gratification.

"He compounded this by trying to evade justice and fleeing to Kosovo in order to go into hiding.

"The victims’ bravery in now coming forward and giving evidence has seen him convicted of these serious offences."

Soper will be sentenced at a later date.

Notes to editors

  • Andrew Soper (dob 17/09/1943) was convicted of two counts of buggery, two counts of indecency with a child, and 15 counts of indecent assault.
  • Soper was found guilty of buggery, contrary to section 12(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, as the offending took place when this act was in force. The offence was changed from buggery to rape by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
  • Tetteh Turkson is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the CPS London North Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (Rasso) unit.

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