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Former Benedictine abbot, wanted on abuse charges, arrested in UK after 5-year manhunt

August 22, 2016

British police have arrested a former Benedictine abbot who had been the subject of a 5-year international manhunt after he fled the country to avoid facing sex-abuse charges.

Father Laurence Soper, who had once been the abbot of Ealing Abbey, was arrested in 2010 on sex-abuse charges. Released on bail, he failed to appear for trial. He was traced to Rome-- where he withdrew money from an account at the Vatican bank in 2011-- then disappeared. He was finally discovered in Kosovo, where he was arrested in May of this year.

Earlier this month court in Kosovo declined to extradite Father Soper to the United Kingdom, noting that the charges against him dated back 30 years-- beyond the country's statute of limitations. However, he was arrested when he entered the UK on August 21. It was not immediately clear whether he had returned from Kosovo of his own volition, or British authorities had successfully appealled the decision against his extradition.

 
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  • Posted by: stpetric - Aug. 22, 2016 9:54 PM ET USA

    The BBC reports that Soper is a "former" priest, apparent;y based on the fact that he has resumed use of his baptismal name rather than his name in religion. Other sources describe him as a priest. Does anyone know whether he has been "laicized"?