more than 6 years in prison
LONDON - A priest was jailed for 18 years on Thursday for sexual abusing boys at a top British Catholic school in crimes dating back to the 1970s.
Father Laurence Soper, fled to Kosovo in 2011 to avoid prosecution over charges that he molested boys while headmaster at St Benedict’s School in London.
He was extradited in 2016 to face 19 counts of indecent assault and buggery against 10 former pupils in the 1970s and 1980s. A jury at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London found him guilty of all charges on December 6.
Sentencing him Thursday, judge Anthony Bate said that Soper’s conduct was “the most appalling breach of trust” and that he had “subverted the rules of the Benedictine order and teachings of the Catholic Church”. Bate said Soper’s life would now be “overshadowed by the proven catalogue of vile abuse”.
“Your disgrace is complete,” he added.
The trial heard how Soper’s victims were subjected to sadistic beatings for “fake reasons” including kicking a football “in the wrong direction”, “failing to use double margins” and “using the (wrong) staircase”, leading to a caning and a sexual assault.
Giving evidence, Soper denied using the cane as a ruse to abuse boys who were given the choice of six lashes with trousers on, or three with them off.
“Soper abused his position of trust as headmaster of a middle school over a sustained period of time,” police Detective Superintendent Ang Scott said after the sentencing.
“Throughout the investigation he has attempted to evade justice by leaving the UK and then failing to answer his bail.”
Speaking of the victims, he said: “Although it can never make up for the emotional and psychological trauma caused by Soper’s crimes, I hope the sentence handed to him today can give them some form of closure.”
By Jocelyn Gecker and Janie Har, The Associated Press
Symphonies in Boston, San Francisco and Sydney have severed ties with world-renowned conductor Charles Dutoit.
Meanwhile, classical orchestras in New York, Chicago and Cleveland announced that he's withdrawn his services for upcoming concerts, including at the Royal Philharmonic in London, where currently Dutoit serves as artistic director and principal conductor.
The reaction has been swift in the classical music world, following graphic sexual assault accusations made by three opera singers and a classical musician to The Associated Press.
As symphonies around the globe reacted to the detailed accounts, accusations surfaced about Dutoit's decades-long reputation for inappropriate behaviour.
Joe Kluger, former president of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 1989 to 2005, told The AP that Dutoit's reputation as "extremely flirtatious" was one factor that caused the organization to pass him over twice for the job of music director during those years.
He said rumours of Dutoit's "inappropriate behaviour with women were common knowledge in the classical music business." He added: "I do recall telling our staff to be wary around him and encouraged them to report any inappropriate behaviour immediately."
Kluger said he was unaware of any formal complaints filed about Dutoit by musicians or staff members. He said he had never heard that Dutoit had assaulted women.
Natasha Gauthier, a writer based in Ottawa, said Dutoit's reputation as a womanizer was common knowledge in the Montreal classical music world and she even wrote about her own unwanted encounter with the conductor in 1995 for a prominent weekly magazine.
She described how she arrived in his dressing room for an interview only to have him snatch away her notebook, then lean in, putting his hand on her knee while trying to give her a massage. She said he asked about her marital status. Gauthier quoted Dutoit as saying he would not speak to her for the story when he learned she had been inquiring about his reputation.
She didn't expect him to be fired as a result of the story, but she was stunned by the silence from orchestra management.
"Nobody doubted that this had happened just as I had described," Gauthier said, "but I'm the one who got blacklisted."
Officials at the City of Montreal say they are "following the file closely" and add that Dutoit, who last year was a recipient of the Order of Montreal, could lose that acknowledgement.
"If the allegations are confirmed, we will have to withdraw this recognition," a spokesperson from the office of Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante told CBC.
All four accusers told the AP they never filed formal complaints because they were young and Dutoit was the maestro; they figured they would lose their jobs, not him.
The AP story published Thursday included detailed accounts by the four women, who said Dutoit attacked them on the sidelines of rehearsals and performances with orchestras in five cities — Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
They said the incidents occurred between 1985 and 2010 in a variety of places, including a moving car, Dutoit's dressing room, a hotel elevator and his suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago.
The women, two who were named, said the Swiss-born conductor physically restrained them, forced his body against theirs, sometimes put his tongue in their mouths and, in one case, stuck her hand down his pants.
One of the women who spoke to the AP said Dutoit attacked her on four occasions during performances with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2006 and 2010.
Other musicians and singers interviewed by the AP spoke of a culture of sexual misconduct in the classical music world that they said has long been implicitly tolerated by people in positions of authority.
The same day the accusations were published, six major symphonies ended long relationships with the 81-year-old Dutoit or announced that he had withdrawn from upcoming performances. Except for the "withdrawal" comments attributed to him by three of the six orchestras, the two-time Grammy winner remained silent.
In making their announcements about their relationships with Dutoit, the orchestras issued strongly worded statements about "the extremely troubling allegations" and a commitment to a harassment-free workplace. He had been set to appear at the New York Philharmonic next month; the other performances were scattered through 2018.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London issued a statement early Friday saying it and Dutoit "have jointly agreed to release him from his forthcoming concert obligations with the orchestra for the immediate future."
The orchestra statement says the facts should be determined by a legal process. It says Dutoit "needs to be given a fair opportunity to seek legal advice and contest these allegations."
Prior to release of the AP story, Dutoit did not respond to multiple attempts for comment through the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and his office in Montreal. The Royal Philharmonic said Dutoit was on vacation, but that it had forwarded the AP's emailed requests for comment directly to him. The AP also reached out to Dutoit's office with several phone calls and emails.
In a long, distinguished career, Dutoit has travelled the world as a guest conductor and led several highly regarded orchestras, including the Orchestra National de France, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo and the MSO.
Among those who spoke to AP were soprano and two-time Grammy winner Sylvia McNair, 61, who said Dutoit had cornered her in a hotel elevator after a rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985.
"As soon as it was just the two of us in the elevator, Charles Dutoit pushed me back against the elevator wall and pressed his knee way up between my legs and pressed himself all over me," said McNair, who was 28 at the time.
"I managed to shove him off and right at that moment, the elevator door opened. I remember saying, `Stop it!' And I made a dash for it."
Retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen said Dutoit summoned her to his dressing room at the LA Opera in September 1991, before a dress rehearsal for Les Troyens.
"He threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his pants and shoved his tongue down my throat," she said.
She refused to ever be alone with the maestro again, said Rasmussen, 52, now an attorney in the San Francisco area.
SASKATOON — Police have arrested a Saskatoon man on the suspicion he was using the internet to arrange to sexually abuse a child.
Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation Unit investigators say they began reviewing the online posts earlier this month.
Brendan Olynick, who is 35, is charged with arranging to commit a sexual offence against a child.
He is being held in custody pending his next court appearance on Thursday.
The unit is made up of RCMP and police from Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
A former Dudley, UK man who raped a young girl and committed a string of other child sexual offences has been jailed after being found hiding in a park.
The unemployed 38-year-old failed to appear at his trial in September 2016 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. A nationwide search was launched jointly by West Midlands and Hertfordshire Police, after reported sightings of him sleeping rough in Borehamwood.
A trial went ahead in his absence and he was found guilty on December 14 at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
But a tip off earlier this week finally led police to a Cardiff park and on Wednesday Perry was found and jailed for 20 years followed by an extended licence period of five years. He will also remain on the Sex Offender Register for life.
Detective sergeant Kay Redfern, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “We are delighted that, with the assistance of the public and our colleagues in South Wales Police, we have removed a dangerous sex offender from our streets. We wish to thank everyone who contacted us with information that led to the capture of this man.
“I hope this brings comfort to his victims who showed tremendous courage in coming forward and reporting their horrific experiences."
“West Midlands Police has an excellent track record of bringing historical sex offenders to court and there is a raft of agencies we work with to assist survivors of sexual abuse on their journey to justice."
A woman whose sister drowned off Caldey Island as a child says they were both sexually abused by a monk there.
Father Thaddeus Kotik, who lived at Caldey Abbey for 45 years before his death in 1992, is accused of abusing several girls in the 1970s and 1980s.
Joanna Biggs is the first of Kotik's alleged victims to waive anonymity to speak out about her ordeal.
The abbot of the Pembrokeshire island abbey has apologised for any harm caused by a member of his community.
Six other women have been paid compensation by the abbey in an out-of-court settlement following the abuse claims. Other alleged victims have also come forward.
It has emerged that a number of other convicted sex offenders have stayed on the island.
Ms Biggs told BBC Wales that she recalled Kotik "seriously groping" her when she visited the island aged seven.
Kotik would befriend families who lived on the island or visited regularly, giving them chocolates or fresh produce, and inviting children into the dairy.
Ms Biggs said that although she was very young at the time, the memory of the abuse came back to her "in bits and pieces… around different senses. He had very big hands… rough, calloused hands… that's a very clear memory," she said.
"I remember feeling cold, in contrast with the hot, sunny day… there's a thrumming noise and a smell… of being in the dairy, very clean but sweet as well."
Now aged 48, she said remembered how she and her sister Theresa "huddled together in a garden somewhere, having one of our secret talks where we used to agree things together".
"Theresa was saying, 'we're not going to go and see Father Thaddeus, even if he gives us sweets'," she said.
"I knew exactly what she was talking about… I didn't like what he did either and we had this agreement we were not going to see him."
Theresa, who was a year younger than her sister, drowned while swimming off the island's Sandtop beach in July 1977. Her family are now calling for a review into Theresa's inquest.
Ms Biggs said disclosing the abuse she had suffered to her parents last year for the first time had been "incredibly painful" for them, and also for her younger brothers and sisters, to hear about.
She said seeing the recent coverage about the allegations against Kotik - in particular, a photograph of the monk holding tightly onto a young child - had triggered a panic attack.
Speaking of the impact of the abuse, she said: "The trauma is something I'm used to coping with, living with. I can't predict what will trigger it… I have to calm myself down… it makes me very tired when it happens."
She described it as "like a punch in the face" seeing Kotik's grave in the island cemetery. She has echoed other calls for Caldey Abbey to consider exhuming the monk's body.
"It's very hard to see them there, in the same graveyard. [The abbey] have to understand that by leaving the grave there, they're accepting him as a man of God, a holy man."
Kotik's victims have also backed calls from the Welsh Conservatives for an independent inquiry into the scandal. However the Welsh Government has ruled out an inquiry while Dyfed-Powys Police are investigating the allegations.
The abbot of Caldey Abbey, Daniel van Santvoort, has said he would fully cooperate with any investigation.
"[The abbey] need to acknowledge that these are not dead issues, they're live issues and they need to be brave, think really carefully about how they're going to tackle them.
"Now isn't the time for a vow of silence."