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University launches inquiry over sexual abuse complaints

The probe will look at Strathclyde University's handling of complaints against a former worker.

Kevin O'Gorman: Convicted of 14 offences. <strong>Police/Wikimedia</strong>
Kevin O'Gorman: Convicted of 14 offences. Police/Wikimedia

Strathclyde University will hold an independent inquiry into its handling of past complaints of sexual misconduct against a former staff member found guilty of sex crimes.

Craig Sandison QC will lead the probe into the university’s handling of a complaint made by a former student and the subsequent investigation.

On Wednesday, former Strathclyde University teaching staff member Kevin O’Gorman, 45, was convicted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of 14 offences carried out at Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt universities, which included sexual and indecent assault.

The offences relating to Strathclyde occurred between 2006 and 2011 and the university’s principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, said: “There are questions we must ask about our processes and procedures.”

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

Sir Jim said: “The safety and wellbeing of our students is always our first priority, and I am determined that we will learn from this case.

“As a university community, we are shocked and appalled by what emerged from the trial, and by behaviours which are totally contrary to our shared values.

“Our first concern is to reach out to those students and alumni affected and offer our support.

“We have asked the Procurator Fiscal to advise all concerned of the support available, and we encourage anyone affected by this case to contact our wellbeing services for support.

“There are questions we must ask about our processes and procedures.

“I am initiating a Queen’s Counsel-led independent inquiry to establish what we knew at the time, what we ought to have known, and what should have been in place to expose such wrongdoing.

“We will accept the findings of this independent inquiry and will adopt the recommendations that emerge.”

Following the trial, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Maclean, from the unit which investigated O’Gorman, said: “Kevin O’Gorman abused the trust that various students placed in him.

“He exploited these men’s desires to further their academic careers by subjecting them to years of abuse, all for his own gratification.

“To those on the outside, O’Gorman was a well-respected and celebrated professor. However, he used this to leverage the men he targeted and to keep his offences hidden.

“Had it not been for the decisive action taken by staff at Heriot-Watt University, and the willingness of those he abused to assist with our investigation, then O’Gorman would have continued to offend without ever coming to the attention of police.

“We want to make it clear that abuse of any nature will not be tolerated and anyone affected by such offences should not suffer in silence. Please come forward and report the matter so we can bring the perpetrator to justice.”

O’Gorman is due to be sentenced on September 18.


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