UK Catholic priest who fled sex abuse allegations arrested in Kosovo

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(RNS) A British Catholic priest has been arrested in Kosovo, five years after fleeing the U.K. following allegations of child sex abuse.

The Rev. Laurence Soper was arrested in the town of Peja for failing to post bail in 2011. He had fled a year earlier after a man in his 40s accused the priest of abusing him as a child, ITV News reported.

The allegations against Soper, who is now in his 70s, date to when the priest taught at St. Benedict’s School in London. He is believed to have been in Rome in the fall of 2011 when a European arrest warrant was issued.

Locals in Peja said the priest was known as Andrew Soper and told his neighbors he was writing a book, The Guardian reported.

After the initial allegation against Soper, four additional men have claimed they were abused by the priest at the Benedictine school. The majority of the allegations date to the 1970s and 1980s and were outlined in a 2011 report into sexual abuse at the school, which also lists a number of other priests accused or convicted of abusing students.

The former head of the school, the Rev. David Pearce, was jailed for eight years in 2008 for assaulting five boys over a 35-year period. Pearce admitted 10 indecent assaults and one sexual assault.

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