Father Laurence Soper sentenced to 18 years
At a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey yesterday Father Laurence Soper was sentenced to a period of 18 years imprisonment and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for an indefinite period of time. Soper was previously Abbot of Ealing and a headmaster at St Benedict’s School in Ealing which at the time was run by the Benedictine monks of Ealing Abbey. Soper will serve a minimum term of 9 years imprisonment before he may be released on licence.
Earlier this month Soper, 74, was found guilty of nineteen non-recent sexual offences against children dating back to the 1970s. Soper had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges against him but was later found to have committed the offences by a jury at the Old Bailey. The complainants in the case were aged 11-16 at the time the offences were committed. The court heard that whilst Soper was serving as headmaster of the middle school at St Benedict’s School he used corporal punishment as a means to sexually abuse pupils. A number of the offences Soper was convicted of would today constitute rape.
Soper is the fifth teacher from the school to be convicted of charges relating to child abuse.
Soper was interviewed under caution by police in relation to allegations of abuse in 2004, 2009 and 2010. He then skipped bail in 2010, withdrew £182,000 from his Vatican bank account and fled to Kosovo in a planned attempt to avoid justice. The court heard that Soper used a forged letter of introduction to avoid suspicion and evade arrest. He was eventually traced and extradited back to the UK in August 2016. Soper has been remanded in custody since this time. He will now serve a lengthy prison sentence.
In his sentencing remarks on 21st December 2017, Judge Bate said that the abuse by Soper was ‘an appalling breach of trust by a teacher, priest and monk’. He recognised the profound impact the abuse has had on the victims as was evident in their moving impact statements which were summarised during the hearing.
Soper’s offences were aggravated by the fact that he had abused the vulnerability of the victims and the trust that was placed in him by the victims and their parents as part of their Catholic faith. In addition, he committed the offences on school grounds and threatened the victims in order to keep them quiet. The judge remarked that Soper was an ‘intelligent man’ who had now been held to account for his sexual offences and that his ‘disgrace was now complete’.
Bolt Burdon Kemp’s Marlon Ellis has been instructed by one of the individuals abused by Soper, to pursue a civil claim for compensation arising out of the abuse he was subjected to. Marlon has previously brought successful claims on behalf of other individuals abused by Soper. If you have any information that could assist with this case or you think you may have a case, please get in touch.
Rebecca Sheriff is an associate solicitor in the Child Abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp. If you or a love one have a claim, contact Rebecca free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4828 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Child Abuse team will contact you. Find out more about the Child Abuse team.