After failing to locate Father Laurence Soper when he failed to appear at a London police station, the London Metropolitan Police obtained the warrant. It is believed the priest may be in a monastery somewhere.
Soper taught at St. Benedict's School, part of Ealing Abbey, in west London when the sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred. The cleric served as abbot of Ealing Abbey between 1991 and 2000.
In June 2010, a man now in his 40s reported to police he had been sexually assaulted by Soper when he attended the school as a child. Three months later, Soper was arrested on suspicion of historic sexual assault. The 68-year-old was released and required to report to a west London police station in March, 2011. After his release, it is believed he went to Italy. The monk left the Italian monastery he was living in on March 4, 2011, presumably to go back to London to report to the police. But he failed to appear.
A spokeswoman for the London Metropolitan Police is quoted by The Press Association as saying, "Officers have made extensive enquiries to trace him without success and a European Arrest Warrant for his arrest has been obtained." The warrant was obtained more than a year after Soper became a fugitive when a new investigator took over the case.
A European Arrest Warrant requires member states to arrest and surrender the subject to the requesting state.
The Daily Mail reports Ealing Abbey issued a statement saying, "All efforts to make contact with him have been without success. He was trusted by the police in England to return. He has betrayed that trust. If anyone has information as to his whereabouts, we urge them to contact the police."
Apparently the police had so much trust in Soper they did not require him to surrender his passport, nor did they obtain a recent picture of the priest.
As The Telegraph points out, this is not the first time St. Benedict's School has been associated with the sexual abuse of children. In October 2009, Father David Pearce was jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to 10 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault. He had sexually abused five boys, four of whom were under the age of 14. Pearce's crimes took place between 1972 and 2008, a period of 36 years.
That case was referred to as the "devil in the dog collar" case after the description given by one of the victims.
Soper's 10 year old picture is being placed on police websites and has been circulated to monasteries throughout the world. Anyone with any information as to the fugitive's whereabouts is asked to contact the London Metropolitan Police or Crime Stoppers.