Jury Deliberating Case of Abbot Accused of Abusing Boys at Ealing School
By Aine Fox and Emily Pennink
Get West London
November 30, 2017
|Also known as Father Lawrence, Soper faces 19 charges of child sex abuse|
A former abbot at Ealing Abbey accused of abusing boys while working at a school in Ealing is awaiting the verdict in his trial at the Old Bailey.
Andrew Soper was headmaster and senior priest at St Benedict's School, a fee-paying independent school in Ealing, and he stands accused of abusing 10 boys there during the 1970s and 80s.
Now aged 74, Mr Soper denies 19 offences of indecent assault and buggery against the boys, who claim they were subjected to sexual touching and beatings with a cane.
Prosecutors said the school had a history of "both violence and sexual abuse" by the adults in charge, describing it as "sadly prevalent".
A former pupil accused the school of covering up covering up “serial abuse” by teachers and priests over the past six decades in his testimony.
Jurors heard Father David Pearce, a former headmaster at the school, and John Maestri, a former maths teacher, have previously been prosecuted for child abuse crimes there.
A pupil told the court that he believed Maestri ran a paedophile ring at the school, but defence lawyer Jane Humphreys QC accused the man of concocting the stories to get back at school masters who had caned him.
“You say Mr Soper caned you and other masters did as well. You said that you want to bring the Benedictine order to its knees," said the barrister.
|Andrew Soper was headmaster and senior priest at St Benedict's School (Image: Google Maps)|
The victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the beatings were given for "fake reasons" such as kicking a football "in the wrong direction", "failing to use double margins" and "using the [wrong] staircase", the Old Bailey heard.
During his defence, Mr Soper told jurors incidents had been interpreted in a "sexual way" against a "tsunami of media attention as I am named fairly frequently".
The abbot was extradited from Kosovo for the trial after he fled there from Rome upon learning he was the subject of a Metropolitan Police investigation in 2011.
Explaining why he fled, he blamed "stupidity and cowardice" and told the jury that his life had been ruined by the allegations.
The jury retired to consider the verdicts on Thursday morning following a two-month trial.