UK

Ex-priest Laurence Soper in court on child sex abuse charges

Luton Airport Image copyright PA
Image caption Laurence Soper was arrested at Luton Airport on Sunday

A former Roman Catholic priest accused of historical sex offences against five victims has appeared in court.

Laurence Soper, 72, appeared at Ealing Magistrates' Court accused of assaulting boys, one under 14, over a period from 1971 to 1983.

The nine charges include offences of buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault, and all allegedly took place in Ealing, west London.

Mr Soper was returned to the UK from Kosovo after a five-year police hunt.

He 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 and he was detained in Kosovo in May.

In court he gave his name as Andrew Charles Kingston Soper - with Laurence being the name he took when he was ordained as a priest.

He is accused of committing offences at St Benedict's School in Ealing, where he taught in the 1970s and 80s.

Abbot

Four of the charges, including two of buggery and one of indecent assault, relate to a single alleged victim and date from 9 September 1971 to 31 July 1974.

The boy was under the age of 14 when Mr Soper allegedly carried out an act of gross indecency against him.

Two charges of indecent assault relate to a second boy aged under 16 and are alleged to have occurred between September 1979 and July 1981.

Mr Soper also faces charges of indecent assault against three further boys under 16, alleged to have taken place between September 1980 and July 1983.

After teaching at St Benedict's, Mr Soper became abbot of Ealing Abbey, which had founded the school and supplied monks to teach there.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police's sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command had appealed for help in tracing Mr Soper.

He is due to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on 19 September.

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