Priest fled UK out of 'cowardice' after sexual assault charges

A Roman Catholic priest fled the country out of "cowardice and stupidity" after being accused of abusing young boys, a court has heard.

Laurence Soper, 74, is charged with 19 counts of sexual assault against boys at St Benedict's School in Ealing, where he taught - writes bbc.com.

Mr Soper was returned to the UK in May 2016 from after a five-year police hunt in Kosovo, the Old Bailey heard.

Ten former pupils have made allegations dating back to the 1970s and 80s.

The boys allege they were subjected to rape, sexual touching and beaten with a cane.

Mr Soper was arrested in 2010 and bailed, but failed to return to a London police station in March 2011.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued for him in 2012.

Mr Soper - who is no longer a monk but remains a priest - said his whole life had been "ruined" by the allegations.

He insisted he did not flee to Kosovo because he was guilty.

He said: "My stupidity and cowardice and wishing to bury my head in the sand played a big part.

"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."

Mr Soper said he had been beaten with a cane several times when he too was a pupil at St Benedict's in the 1950s.

It was "not totally uncommon" to hear of boys being caned with "clothes off", he added.

Mr Soper told jurors, he had caned boys as a teacher but felt "totally different" about the practice now.

He denies all the charges against him, including indecent assault and indecency with a child.

The trial continues.

Read also other news of London on our site.

bbc.com
Priest sexualassaultcharges
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in october
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Tube drivers on the Piccadilly Line are set to hold fresh 24-hour strike action in a row over staffing and working conditions. The RMT Union has urged members to walk out at 12:00 BST on 7 November until noon the following day - writes bbc.com The union's general secretary Mick Cash said it had become "frustrated" with Tube bosses' handling of a "full raft of issues". Transport for London (TfL) said it was "disappointed" with the new strike. Drivers on the...
Society
The Tate and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are calling for a premium to fund arts classes in England's schools. The major arts institutions say league tables and pressures on time and budgets are squeezing out important creative subjects - writes bbc.com Six thousand 11 to 18-year-olds have described how the subjects help build their confidence, in new research. The government says it is investing almost £500m in arts and music. Creative subjects hav...
Crime
Five teenagers have been jailed for fatally stabbing a man in an unprovoked attack as he returned home from an appointment with his pregnant partner. Daniel Frederick, 34, was knifed repeatedly by the group just yards from his home in Stoke Newington, Hackney. Three teenagers were convicted of murdering Mr Frederick while another two were found guilty of manslaughter. They were jailed at the Old Bailey for a combined total of at least 64 years. Judge Phili...
Society
Work at a building site near London's Olympic Park has stopped after complaints about "horrendous" smells. Nearby Mossbourne Academy said its students felt sick and local residents spoke of headaches because of smells coming from the site in Hackney Wick. The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) told Telford Homes to stop work last month until a new plan to "manage the site" was approved. The LLDC and Telford Homes claimed there was no health risk....
Society
Ten of Britain's busiest railway stations have seen over half of all train services delayed by a minute or more this year, research has revealed - writes bbc.com Manchester Oxford Road had the least punctual services, with 68% delayed. Data analysis by consumer group Which? found York, Gatwick Airport and Birmingham New Street also saw less than 40% of trains arrive on time. The group said even small delays could have "a knock-on effect" on passengers' abi...
Society
Two more east London schools have closed because of an infestation of false widow spiders. John F Kennedy Special School, which has campuses in Stratford and Beckton, and Godwin Junior School, in Forest Gate, announced they would close. False widows are about the size of a 50p coin and are the most dangerous spider species in the UK. Four secondary schools and four primary schools, all in Newham, have closed for various amounts of time. Thousands of childr...
Society
London Abused Women’s Centre says an anti-sex-trafficking online ad campaign that drew scores of calls for help from women and girls was so successful, it's already planning another. London Abused Women’s Centre says an anti-sex-trafficking online ad campaign that drew scores of calls for help from women and girls was so successful, it’s already planning another. The online ads, targeting both possible trafficking victims and sex buyers, appeared or were v...
Society
Women have been warned not to use headphones or mobile phones while walking alone after a series of sex assaults near a Tube station. Ten separate assaults on lone women in Cricklewood are thought to be linked, police said. Most of the attacks have taken place near Willesden Green Tube station, where the latest victim was assaulted early on Sunday. The Met urged women to "take care" when walking alone. Sunday's attack, on Walm Lane, happened when a woman w...
Society
Former JLS member Oritse Williams has appeared in court accused of raping a fan in a hotel room after a concert. The 31-year-old was arrested in December 2016 in connection with an incident in a hotel in Wolverhampton. The singer, who first appeared on X Factor in 2008, was given unconditional bail by magistrates in Walsall. Mr Williams, from Croydon, south London, is due to appear at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 8 November. Co-defendant Jamien Nagadhana,...