Daily Mail, 28th October 2000
Andrew Sadler was a popular prep school teacher. But as this chilling investigation reveals,he was at the centre of a vast and sophisticated network of paedophiles, many of them occupying top jobs, who with sickening cunning have infiltrated our public schools…
by Jo-Ann Goodwin
RAHOVA Prison on the outskirts of Bucharest has a fearsome reputation.
A hangover from the days of Ceausescu, the jail’s very name once evoked terror for those who dared defy the Romanian tyrant’s regime.
Things are different now – Ceausescu is long deposed and the building has been modernised and newly painted. A friendly official directs me through security, and up to the second floor of the men’s wing.
The wing commandant brings Andrew Sadler to meet me. I hear him before I see him. Even speaking halting Romanian, the public school accent is unmistakable.
Blue-eyed, with greying hair, Sadler looks like a cross between John Cleese and Derek Nimmo, and towers over his Romanian guards. I’m struck by how utterly out of place he seems.
He has an expression of disbelief, as if he hopes at any moment to wake up back home at his elegant Regency apartment in Worcester. Over and over, he tells me the same thing: ‘It’s all been a ghastly mistake.’ But there is no mistake. Now 30 days into a four-year sentence for ‘sexual corruption and sex with a minor’, Sadler stands at the centre of a vast paedophile network that British police who helped to catch him have likened to ‘a spider’s web’.
The web draws in members throughout Europe – affluent professional men, teachers and clergymen – and is thought to be active in many of Britain’s leading private schools. It is a paedophile support system, a secret network used by dedicated and ruthless sexual predators for their mutual assistance and protection.
Members help each other into jobs where they can be close to children, and offer tips on the best way to win their trust. Once a youngster has fallen into a paedophile’s clutches, he or she may be passed around the network from one abuser to another.
There is also, of course, a busy trade in pornography of the vilest kind.
And there are organised trips to countries where lax law enforcement and child poverty make sexual exploitation easier.
PAEDOPHILES are notoriously cunning and secretive, adept at exploiting modern technology such as the internet to operate undiscovered.
Theirs is an extremely difficult world for police to penetrate – so Sadler’s conviction last month was a major coup.
‘We’ve been after him for more than six years,’ said one of the officers involved. ‘And he’s just one individual from an international network involving hundreds of paedophiles.’ A practising paedophile for more than 20 years, the 51-year-old former French master at Abberley Hall preparatory school in Worcestershire had not previously been convicted.
Fellow residents of Britannia Square, one of Worcester’s most exclusive addresses, couldn’t believe the news from Romania.
‘He was a very pleasant and friendly man who loved cricket,’ said a neighbour. ‘I’m shocked.’ Tipped off by the National Criminal Intelligence Service in Britain, Romanian police had Sadler under surveillance from the moment he landed in Bucharest on January 20 this year. It was his sixth visit. He was met at the airport by a 29-year-old Romanian, Ilie Gabriel, who has convictions for pimping. Gabriel was accompanied by two 15-year-old boys.
Despite having a perfectly good hotel room, Sadler stayed in a dingy one-bedroom flat rented by Gabriel in the shabby Berceni district. The two men taped sheets of newspaper across the bedroom window before Sadler subjected the two boys to horrifying sexual abuse.
When Romanian police raided the flat on January 25, the two boys said they had effectively been held prisoner.
At his trial, however, Sadler denied any wrongdoing.
The former teacher described himself as a priest of the International Pentacostalist Church (untrue) and a former headmaster (also untrue). He said he had visited Romania for ‘religious reasons’, had taken the two boys under his ‘protecting wing’, and had cared for them out of ‘Christian mercy’.
The lies were as fluent as they were outrageous. Network paedophiles such as Sadler are practised dissemblers.
A British police officer says: ‘I’ve interrogated paedophiles when armed with incontrovertible evidence of guilt – forensics, confessions, surveillance tapes. Yet by the end of the interview, I catch myself thinking “We’ve got the wrong man” because they are so manipulative.’ MUCH of the past summer in Britain was overshadowed by the abduction and murder of eight-year- old Sarah Payne.
The terrible crime conjured up the most common image of paedophiles – sinister, solitary men who murder little girls.
But most network paedophiles don’t fit this pattern.
They are rarely violent, and mainly prefer boys. Intelligent and well-educated, such men are often liked and admired by their unsuspecting peers.
The lurking stranger in a dirty mac is easy to spot. Yet it is ‘respectable’ men like Andrew Sadler who commit the bulk of paedophile crime.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, paedophiles of this stamp founded PIE (the Paedophile Information Exchange) and lobbied for legal reform, notably the lowering of the age of consent to ten. Initially, the group made some headway.
In October 1977, Community Care, a magazine for social workers, ran an article that described PIE’s chairman, Tom O’Carroll, as ‘a likeable, gentle young man’ possessed of ‘dark good looks’.
The female writer went on to say that PIE members saw themselves as ‘co- operating with parents in a hitherto neglected aspect of prepubertal development’.
PIE attempted to ‘repackage’ paedophilia. In 1981, it suggested that the word ‘paedophile’ be dropped because of its negative associations.
Just as homosexuals had adopted the word ‘gay’, so it was proposed that paedophiles should adopt the term ‘kind person’ to describe themselves, thus giving ‘a positive description of paedosexuality’.
Reality soon reasserted itself.
Five members of PIE went on trial in 1981 for ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’, and Tom O’Carroll was sentenced to two years in prison. PIE appeared to collapse, and disappeared from public view.
However, many experts think the organisation simply went underground in the face of hostile public opinion. Gradually, they say, the remnants of PIE have regrouped and transformed into the paedophile web of which Sadler was a key member.
THE subsequent careers of PIE members seem to bear this out. Charles Scott Napier of Thames Ditton, Surrey, was treasurer of PIE. A former prep school teacher, and convicted child abuser, Napier remained close to a number of previous PIE members.
Police believe that Andrew Sadler knew both Napier and PIE founder-member Morris Fraser, another convicted paedophile. Fraser was a leading child psychiatrist, specialising
in childhood trauma. Sadler and Fraser are believed to have attended Napier’s Thames Ditton ‘parties’, where boys were filmed being subjected to multiple acts of abuse.
Through the interlinking connections between men like Fraser, Napier and Sadler, the spider’s web grew. The organisation was informal, but some members began to take on specialist roles.
Sadler’s position was ‘quartermaster’, co- ordinating foreign travel for abusers in their ceaseless search for the world’s most vulnerable children.
Paedophiles often go abroad six or seven times a year, and Sadler was an excellent linguist who knew the travel business through acting as a guide for American students in Europe. He knew the most discreet places for paedophiles to stay, and local contacts who would make boys available.
Another specialist was Terrence Waters, who is said to have been one of Sadler’s closest contacts and who, like Sadler, was a frequent visitor to Romania. Waters, a 58-year-old former prep school teacher, adopted the alias ‘James Opphin Daler’. The name contains an anagram of ‘paedophile’ and is a play on ‘orphan dealer’.
In 1994, Waters was sentenced to ten years in prison for possessing child pornography and abuse of a ten-year-old boy.
AGIFTED artist and photographer, Waters was the network’s pornographer-in-chief, making and distributing videos, photographs and sketches for fellow members.
The police believe much of the material found in a raid on Morris Fraser’s house came from Waters.
Waters had worked as a children’s portraitist, taking professional photographs commissioned by loving parents. They were the kind of pictures that take pride of place in a million British homes: best clothes, hair combed, and a big smile. Copying spare prints and negatives, Waters produced instantly recognisable drawings of the same children. Still smiling, but now pictured engaged in obscene acts with adult men.
A London-based child abuse expert says the full evil of child pornography is barely recognised.
‘The maximum sentence for possession is six months,’ she says.
‘Yet much of the material seized by police features hardcore abuse of real children – six-year- olds with blank faces doing unimaginable things. Videos showing ten-year- old boys and middle-aged men. People caught with this stuff should face heavy punishment.’ Video evenings and meetings where pornography is exchanged are among the web’s main activities. Bizarre though it may seem, there is also a social aspect.
As countless letters and diaries show, paedophiles enjoy the company of other paedophiles.
Emotionally isolated, and fearing certain condemnation if they reveal their true selves in normal company, the abusers relish the mutual support provided by phone calls and get-togethers at each other’s houses.
There are other benefits. Lawyer members are able to advise those who fall foul of the police, and recommend sympathetic barristers.
VIA the internet, there is advice on how to obtain jobs with children and listings of current vacancies. Specialist sites offer guidance on the best scenes for freeze-framing from films and videos which feature children – the latest favourite is Billy Elliot.
Members can even procure children. Police believe Sadler rang contacts known as ‘Bill’ and ‘Pete’ in Birmingham when he wanted access to a 14-year-old rent boy.
But the web stretches far wider than that. A police officer with eight years’ experience in child abuse explains that paedophiles across Europe use the network to ‘maximise resources’. What he describes is almost beyond belief in its depravity.
Each abuser will have a target age group, he says, and will show little interest in children outside that range. So if a member of the network gets hold of a four-year-old boy, he may first be packed off to Brussels and the home of a Belgian who likes victims in the three-to-six age group.
After two years he may be taken to Munich, for a German whose preference is for the six-to-nine age range. On his ninth birthday, he goes to Paris, and a Frenchman who likes boys between nine and 12.
FINALLY, perhaps, it’s off to London and the tender care of an Englishman who (like Sadler) targets 11 to 14-year-olds. After the Englishman has lost interest, the boy will most likely be dumped.
The police officer is quite matterof-fact. ‘When this level of abuse happens,’ he says, ‘the kids are lost. The damage is too great to repair. You can counsel them until you are blue in the face, but it won’t do any good.
They’re finished. They become rent boys, usually, and a lot commit suicide.’
He shrugs. ‘The trouble with this job is that you eat and breathe it. I even dream about it. You can’t get it out of your head.’ SADLER’S conviction represents years of dedicated police pursuit, but his downfall began in 1991 when he met Nick Townley.
Like Sadler, Townley taught French at Abberley Hall preparatory school, which charges GBP 3,700 a term and counts Sir Geoffrey Howe among its former pupils.
The two bachelors shared a passion for cricket, and became friends. Soon Townley met Antonio, a Portuguese boy whom Sadler refers to as ‘my son’.
It is believed that Antonio, who is now in his early twenties, was brought to England by Sadler at the age of 11 or 12, and subsequently made the older man’s legal ward. Since Sadler’s imprisonment in Romania, Antonio has remained in Worcester and refuses to speak to the police, whom he accuses of victimising his guardian.
Sadler’s double life began to emerge after he collapsed with heart trouble in the spring of 1994.
Townley says that Sadler told him he had confessed to a hospital psychiatrist about his interest in small boys. At this stage, he insisted that this attraction was emotional rather than physical.
Sadler then suffered a massive heart attack while watching a cricket match between Worcestershire and Hampshire, and was lucky to survive. While recuperating, he muttered to Townley about having a ‘deep, dark secret’.
Townley discovered the true nature of that secret shortly after the start of the autumn school term, when Sadler came to him for help. Sadler revealed that a fellow paedophile working at a nearby school had rung to tell him that he had been arrested. Sadler and this man, it transpired, held a shared ‘archive’ of child pornography.
After clearing the material from his flat and packing it into a large suitcase, Sadler asked Townley to drive him to Worcester station so he could take it to a safe hideaway.
Townley believes the material was later recovered and burnt.
Sadler told Townley his friend had been arrested for indecent assault on a boy. As if this were not serious enough, Sadler now admitted: ‘I take things very much further.’ Apparently gripped by a need to confess, he spoke of having had sex with ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of youngsters, telling Townley he paid for sex with boys while travelling abroad, and that fellow paedophiles were operating in six other leading educational establishments.
It was only then, and after losing his job at Abberley Hall through redundancy, that Townley revealed to the school’s headmaster what he had heard.
TOWNLEY would stress that Sadler had initially insisted his interest in boys was restricted to fantasy. Only when it became clear that this was a charade, Townley said, did he feel able to inform on a man he had grown to like and trust.
Police and social services became involved, and, while no charges were brought, Sadler took the option of early retirement in 1995.
Acting on the information they had gleaned from Townley, police went on to set up ‘Operation Fledgling’ to target what was clearly a major network of public school paedophiles.
Disappointingly, Sadler had been too quick for them. When searched, his flat was – as one officer put it – ‘worryingly clean’.
However, the contacts he had named to Townley were providing a mass of valuable intelligence.
A raid on Harrow in May 1996 resulted in the seizure of a number of items in the possession of a senior master. These included video tapes and a book of vintage photographs showing 16-year-old boys in ‘Greek and Roman poses’.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges, and the teacher remained in his post.
‘My client has stressed he is not a paedophile,’ announced his lawyer. ‘I think he may be unfortunate in his friends.’ Highly unfortunate. The teacher’s name had appeared in address books belonging to the Rev Brian Boucher, 57, chaplain of Hurstpier-point College, West Sussex, and science teacher Trevor Jones, 44, who moved to Hurstpierpoint from Harrow. In 1996 both men were cautioned by police for possession of indecent material and subsequently dismissed.
The following year, Adrian Stark, 33, who had moved from Hurst-pierpoint to become director of music at St John’s School, Leatherhead, committed suicide when a police raid on his flat uncovered large amounts of child pornography.
The school bursar, Christopher Pelley, said: ‘He will be sadly missed by everyone at the school.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.’ Perhaps some thought and prayers should also be given to the children appearing in Mr Stark’s collection of pornography.
Although there is no evidence that Stark preyed on pupils at either Hurstpierpoint or St John’s, a senior social worker explained to me how easily boys at public school can become targets.
‘They may be very privileged in material terms, but sometimes pupils may be underprivileged in other ways,’ she said. ‘Some come from abroad, some spend their holidays with paid carers.
‘Who do they turn to? They’re often very conscious of the school fees, and don’t want to upset their parents by speaking out and damaging the school’s reputation.’ Top public schools, she added, are ferociously competitive and highly academic. Teachers wrap their paedophile tendencies in scholasticism, both as a disguise and as bait to intrigue bright and intellectually curious boys.
It’s easy to imagine the one-toone tutorial, as the pictures and texts are produced. ‘This material’s only for my more advanced pupils . . . a unique vision, not easy to interpret . . . I’ll try to guide you through.’ If flattery and persuasion fail, paedophile masters can fall back on other methods, says the social worker: ‘It’s pretty obvious how easy it is in such an environment to threaten a boy into compliance or silence. The threat of failure, expulsion, a letter home. A child can be quickly intimidated.’ She also points to the large number of music teachers and choir masters who have been convicted.
‘Children with a particular talent can be very vulnerable,’ she says.
Hours of solitary practice in soundproofed music rooms, a close relationship between teacher and pupil, competitions and festivals which often involve nights away – and gifted children desperate to succeed. For paedophiles, it is the perfect combination.
AFTER ‘retiring’ as a teacher, Andrew Sadler worked as a guide for various tour firms. Then, in 1997, Romanian police arrested a 44-year- old French paedophile called Michel Paul Albenque.
Albenque was another senior member of the network. And when French detectives arrived in Romania, he talked.
The Frenchman had met Sadler in 1987 on a paedophile trip to Portugal. There were subsequent visits to Spain, Morocco and Albania, and to Portugal again in 1990.
‘In June 1993 I went to the Czech Republic,’ Albenque told police. ‘I stayed in Prague and went with Andrew Sadler. We went not as tourists but to satisfy ourselves by deviant sexual activity.’ Albenque named other foreign paedophiles and listed more than 20 abused boys of various nationalities.
Boys could be acquired from ‘families where the material situation was precarious’.
Albenque’s file contained a number of letters received from Sadler, one with photographs enclosed.
The boys shown are aged around 12. Their names and nationalities are unknown. They are naked, and the photos are obscene.
ALBENQUE’S testimony made police determined to stop Sadler. His frequent trips to Romania provided the opportunity. His conviction was a triumph for the National Criminal Intelligence Service, West Mercia Police and the Romanians.
Back in Rahova Prison, Andrew Sadler is not looking well. Grubby and dishevelled, he is sharing a cell with ten other prisoners. Like most people, they detest paedophiles and Sadler is clearly frightened.
He has pinned all his hopes on his appeal, due to be heard on Monday, October 30. ‘It’s a terrible mistake,’ he repeats. ‘The Romanians have got it wrong.’ When asked why he preferred to share a one-bedroom flat with a man and two 15-year- old boys rather than stay in his hotel, he repeats his favourite refrain.
‘No, you see, the Romanians really have got things wrong. It was two bedrooms, not one.’ A small detail, surely, but in any event not true. I checked.
So why, I asked, did he paper over the windows of the bedroom?
‘I had to block the light,’ he replies, ‘there were no curtains.’ Again, not true. As I point out to him, there were perfectly adequate curtains. ‘Oh, yes, yes, you’re right, I remember. But they were Romanian, very poor quality.’ As Sadler patently holds a very low opinion of Romania, it seems strange that he was on his sixth visit. Why did he keep coming back? Because he was engaged in proof-reading work, he tells me.
In the age of the fax and email, this is simply ludicrous. Why not have the documents in question sent to England? ‘I like to see friends in Bucharest. I have a lot of friends here.’ Perhaps so, but Mr Sadler is not willing to name them.
And is it true that he’s a minister in the Pentecostal Church? ‘Good Lord, no!’ Sadler replies.
But you told the court you were.
‘No, no, no!’ It is yet another thing the Romanians have got wrong.
Like describing you as a former headmaster, I suggest? But Sadler tells me he most definitely was a headteacher. Head of Abberley Hall, no less, from 1994 to 1995. I look at him, astonished. This is total fabrication, and I say so, but he sticks by his claim.
The following morning, Sadler rings me from the prison. ‘You are perfectly right,’ he says, ‘I wasn’t headmaster at Abberley Hall; it was my previous school.’ This, too, is a lie, and I say so.
‘Oh gosh,’ he says, ‘Oh dear, this really is awful. This is so ghastly.
You don’t believe anything I say.’ Over two hours of conversation, Sadler had told endless lies in the hope of misleading me. Perhaps, as with a number of paedophiles, he is incapable of acknowledging the truth about himself.
As we left the prison, my Romanian interpreter, Mihai, folded his arms and ignored Sadler’s outstretched hand in disgust. Yet he was also upset.
‘It’s hard to think of it. An educated Englishman locked up in a place like that with those people.
It must be terrible for him.’ Pity for the defenceless – something that, despite all their education, Andrew Sadler and his fellow members of the paedophile web have never understood.