Former Scottish university professor who sexually assaulted students avoids jail

Ex-university professor Kevin O'GormanEx-university professor Kevin O'Gorman
Ex-university professor Kevin O'Gorman
A former university professor who sexually assaulted students and has been described as a "monster" has avoided jail.

Kevin O'Gorman was convicted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of abusing eight males while working at Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt universities over an eight-year period.

The academic was found guilty of 14 offences, including sexually assaulting seven males and sending sexually inappropriate messages to another male between 2006 and 2014.

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At his sentencing hearing today, the court heard Mr O'Gorman continues to maintain his innocence.

But Sheriff Alistair Noble sentenced O'Gorman to a community payback order including 240 hours of unpaid work to be completed in nine months and three years of supervision.

He also imposed a home detention curfew, meaning O'Gorman must stay at his home address in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, between 7pm and 7am for six months and will be monitored by an electronic tag.

One of his victims described O'Gorman as a "monster" and claimed Strathclyde University had "turned a blind eye" to the abuse.

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Fraser Blevins, now 32, who waived his right to anonymity, said: "That man is nothing short of a monster who preyed on innocent people, but at the same time I can look at him and see him as nothing but weak and pathetic.

"I am disappointed it wasn't a custodial sentence. It's difficult to imagine that man being free in the comfort of his own home.

"I hope the community service at least addresses his ego as he has never appeared to show any remorse."

Mr Blevins added: "I was only 17 when he groomed and abused me and others for his own sick gratification.

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"For me, it's too late for Strathclyde University to say sorry. That would be nothing more than a PR move for them."

He accused the university of "turning a blind eye" to the abuse and called for a full internal review to be made public.

Strathclyde University is holding an independent inquiry into its handling of past complaints of sexual misconduct against O'Gorman.

Announcing the inquiry, the university's principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: "There are questions we must ask about our processes and procedures."

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Police in Edinburgh investigated O'Gorman in 2017 after staff at Heriot-Watt University reported him.

O'Gorman's lawyer Niall McCluskey urged the court to spare him jail and read several references praising the former academic and Scout leader from ex-colleagues at Strathclyde and Heriott-Watt.

He added the 46-year-old does not expect to work in academia again.

The references described him as a "remarkable academic" who had a "genuine concern for the pastoral care of students".

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The court heard a social worker assessed him as being of medium risk of carrying out future sexual offences, but there was "no suggestion he presents a risk of serious or immediate harm".

Sheriff Noble told O'Gorman: "You accept saying some things that may be viewed as inappropriate and you accept that you are a tactile person that may give someone a hug or touch them on the leg.

"You deny any sexual motive and deny the more serious sexual offences such as a striking persons on the buttocks."

Sheriff Noble said he did not believe O'Gorman's account, but believed his victims.

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He said several of the references from former colleagues and those in the Scouts referred to O'Gorman being helpful.

The sheriff added: "Many of the complainers acknowledged in evidence that you helped them.

"You are here now here now because in the course of helping them you also sought to gratify your own sexual interests."

He said the number of complainers and the academic and student relationship increased the gravity of the charges but he believed a non-custodial sentence was suitable.