Milngavie university professor guilty of string of sex assaults on students

Heriot Watt
Heriot Watt

A Milngavie university professor who was described as a “master manipulator” has been convicted of sexually assaulting a string of young male students.

Professor Kevin O’Gorman,45, abused a total of eight young men whilst working at Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt universities between 2006 and 2014.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how O’Gorman abused his position of privilege to prey on vulnerable students who hoped to gain entry to advanced degrees.

The court heard how O’Gorman targeted those who needed help and managed to convince them that they couldn’t succeed without his assistance.

Sheriff Alistair Noble heard one of the victims say that O’Gorman visited him at his flat and ordered him to remove his trousers and bend over a bed.

He said that he had been whipped at least 10 times which left O’Gorman “out of breath and red faced.”

Another complainer described, how over the course of a Skype call, he was made to stand in a corner and beat himself on the bottom with a wooden spoon.

O’Gorman, of Milngavie, denied a total of 19 charges against 11 young men.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Noble acquitted O’Gorman on three of the allegations and convicted him on all other charges.

The judge told O’Gorman that he believed that prosecutors had led enough evidence to justify convicting him.

He added: “I have no problem concluding that the complainers who gave evidence against you that was truthful and credible.

“I do not believe the account which you gave in which you claimed that these encounters were consensual. Your evidence differed greatly from the accounts of the complainers.

“I accordingly find you guilty.”

The verdicts came at the end of a set of proceedings which began earlier this year. None of the young men abused by O’Gorman can be identified for legal reasons.

The academic was the Director of Heriot-Watt’s School of Management and Languages.

One victim told the court that he first met O’Gorman in 2006. The 32-year-old man said that at the time he had suffered from mental health problems and had twice quit university.

During an online conversation with Professor O’Gorman in 2009, the academic asked him about his return to university.

O’Gorman told him he had “screwed up”and would “definitely need to be punished”.

The man said he initially thought it was a joke. But O’Gorman asked him where he lived, if he was alone and said he would need to be “belted”.

The man said: “I was quite scared. I thought maybe it wasn’t a real thing.”

When the academic arrived the two sat down and O’Gorman told him to take down his trousers and underwear before hitting him with a belt 10 times on the backside.

O’Gorman then hugged the man “fiercely” and said: “I bet it feels good now.”

Another victim, now aged 38, told the court that O’Gorman repeatedly manhandled male PhD students and that they developed a “collective coping mechanism”.

Another student, aged 24, told of how O’Gorman told him to take off his trousers on a Skype video call as “punishment” for not working hard enough.

He said O’Gorman told him: “If you act or behave like a child, you’ll be treated like a child.”

O’Gorman claimed that he didn’t abuse the students. He claimed that when he ordered a student to stand in the corner, he was following a “mindfulness technique” similar to the one used by Adam Smith, the 18th century economist.

In closing submissions, depute procurator fiscal Nicole Lavelle said O’Gorman claims to be following Adam Smith’s example was incredible.

She added: “This was not a bizarre mindfulness technique but a criminal act done for sexual gratification.”

Following conviction, Ms Lavelle said that O’Gorman was a first offender.

Defence advocate Niall McCluskey told Sheriff Noble that because his client hadn’t previously offended, the court was obliged to obtain reports on his character and background.

Sheriff Noble then deferred sentence.

O’Gorman will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on September 18 2019.