On Thursday (October 19), a former pupil of Father Andrew Soper accused St Benedict's school of covering up “serial abuse” by teachers and priests over the past six decades.
Soper, a 74-year-old former abbott of Ealing Abbey, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of a string of sex offences – including buggery and indecent assault against 10 schoolboys.
Prosecutors claim sexual abuse and violence against children was widespread at the Roman Catholic school from the 1960s to the 1990s.
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 there.
The court heard from one complainant, who accused Soper of indecently assaulting him twice, who said he believes Maestri ran a paedophile ring at the school.
Representing Soper, Jane Humphryes, QC, said that the victim – who remains anonymous for legal reasons – concocted the claims so he could be a participant in the inquiry into child sexual abuse.
“You're almost obsessed with getting back at St Benedict's for what you consider to be the failings of the school,” she said at the Old Bailey.
“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.”
'The Benedictine Order should answer for the serial abuse'
The complainant replied: “I believe that the Benedictine Order should answer for the serial abuse that has gone on in its educational establishments for the last few decades.
“That's not my main aim, but I wouldn't be sorry if that were the result of these proceedings.”
When asked by Ms Humphryes why he suggested “they are all part of a paedophile ring”, he answered: “It's my opinion.”
He said his opinion was based on the fact he was at St Benedict's School for three years and "his memories of what went on".
"My memories of their behaviour towards classmates of mine and stories that have surfaced since,” he added.
Ms Humphryes said: “So there's almost not a single teacher at that school who you don't suspect was possibly, probably or maybe a sexual deviant and abused children?”
The complainant replied: “With all due respect for your duties to your client, you are taking my words and twisting them for the jury.
“When I speak of a paedophile ring, [I say] that there were schoolmasters, lay or clerical, who were or have been convicted of the sexual abuse of children.
“Therefore it's reasonable to believe that something like a paedophile ring was operating at St Benedict's School.”
Soper withdrew £182,000 from his Vatican bank account and "disappeared" in Albania for five and-a-half years while he was on police bail in 2011.
St Benedict's paid one of Soper's alleged victims a settlement of £135,000 to end a civil case “without prejudice” or any admission that Soper was guilty of any abuse while on the run.
The trial continues.
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