Ealing Abbey: The abbey is attached to St. Benedict's Ealing Catholic Church, a spokesman told The Times Fr Soper had betrayed police trust
Police are expected to fly out in hunt for missing cleric
Abbey says 'We have heard nothing from him. He has betrayed trust'

A Roman Catholic cleric who skipped bail before he could be charged with sex offences against children dating back 20 years may be in hiding in Italy.

Father Laurence Soper, a former abbot of Ealing Abbey, is wanted over allegations of child abuse which are said to have occurred when he was a teacher at St Benedict's, the private school attached to the Abbey.

Former pupils came forward last year with allegations after another teacher at the school, Fr David Pearce was jailed in 2009 for child abuse offences stretching back 30 years.

There is no suggestion Pearce's case is linked to Fr Soper's.

The Times newspaper published information on a series of internal inquires into allegations of historic abuse at the school.

Ealing Abbey told the newspaper Fr Soper, who taught at the school from 1972 to 1984, had left Rome to attend a police interview in London.

Allegations: Feltham Young Offenders Institution where Fr Soper was chaplin
A spokesman for the Abbey told The Times: 'We have heard nothing from him and all efforts to make contact have been without success.

'He was trusted by the police in England to return as and when required. He has betrayed that trust.'

The Diocese of Westminster added it had lent every assistance to the police, although a spokesman pointed out that although Ealing Abbey is in the parish the archbishop does not have control over child protection issues.

Fr Soper is believed to have left the UK after allegations were made about his conduct at Feltham Young Offenders Institution where he was a visiting chaplain ten years ago.

The Times reports detectives are likely to travel to Italy to find the cleric and could seek extradition.