'Sadistic' Catholic priest who fled the country guilty of raping schoolboys

Andrew Soper has been found guilty of abusing 10 boys (Picture: Met Police)
Andrew Soper has been found guilty of abusing 10 boys (Picture: Met Police)

A former Roman Catholic priest has been found guilty of abusing 10 boys while he was headmaster of a school in London during the 1970s and 80s.

Andrew Soper, 74, previously known as Father Laurence Soper, was found guilty of 19 charges of rape and other sexual offences after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Soper sexually abused pupils during his time working at St Benedict’s school in Ealing, west London, where his role meant that he was in charge of discipline.

Before caning pupils, he would ask them to remove their clothes and then sexually assault them, according to Detective Superintendent Ang Scott.

The first victim contacted police in 2004 after Soper stood down from his role as abbot of Ealing Abbey and moved to Rome, but he was told that there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

Soper was later interviewed at Heathrow Police Station in 2010 after further complaints were made, but he subsequently fled to Kosovo while on police bail in 2011.

He will be sentenced later this month (Picture: Met Police)
He will be sentenced later this month (Picture: Met Police)

He was eventually arrested at Luton Airport in August 2016 after being deported by the Kosovan authorities.

Gillian Etherton QC, who led the prosecution, told the court how victims were given sadistic beatings by Soper for ‘fake reasons’ – which included kicking a football in the wrong direction and using the wrong staircase.

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‘Sadistic’ Catholic priest found guilty of abusing boys as headmaster of London school

Soper was convicted of two counts of buggery, two counts of indecency with a child and 15 counts of indecent assault.

He will be sentenced on 19 December.

In a statement released on behalf of St Benedict’s School, Alex Carlile QC said: ‘St Benedict’s school is deeply concerned for, and distressed by, the ordeals faced by the victims of Laurence Soper, who have lived with the pain of his activities for so long.

‘The school apologises unreservedly for the serious wrongs of the past. The school regrets that Soper did not have the courage to plead guilty.

‘The result has been that innocent victims, whom he abused when they were boys in the school, were compelled to give evidence. They were subjected to cross-examination about matters in relation to which they were both helpless and innocent.

‘The fact that these matters took place many years ago does not mitigate the pain and injustice endured by them.’