As student faces jail, troubling questions over ‘failure’ of college authorities to safeguard women Another sex attack at a university, a fresher’s life blighted... and campus safety under the spotlight
A STUDENT was free to carry out a sex attack in university halls despite being investigated by police over other abuse allegations.
In a case prompting calls for greater protection for students, Felix Beck assaulted a fresher at a top Scottish university, leaving her visibly injured and severely traumatised.
He was already under investigation over claims he had raped another female student.
Yet The Scottish Mail on Sunday can reveal that despite the police probe and official university guidelines, the 22-year-old had neither been suspended from his studies at the University of Edinburgh nor banned from entering halls of residence.
Beck is due to be sentenced next week for the attack that left his victim so distressed that she started a course at a different university.
Last night, campaigners accused the University of Edinburgh of a ‘shocking’ failure to safeguard its students.
The mother of Emily Drouet, an 18-year-old Aberdeen University student who took her own life after being abused by her boyfriend Angus Milligan, said universities should issue ‘protective suspensions’ to those accused of a serious criminal offence.
Fiona Drouet, 46, said: ‘We need to remove the person who is facing the allegation from their studies and from campus. It is to protect both parties – it is to protect the person that has made the allegations and the person that has been accused.’
Beck was well known on campus for his extravagant partying. Pictures thought to have been
‘We need to remove the person from their studies and campus’
taken in 2016, the same year as the assault, show the former history student chugging Moet champagne and detailing his trips to bars and clubs.
One student website awarded him the title of ‘Edinburgh’s Maddest Fresher’. The article went on to boast that Beck ‘topped the ‘sh*g leader board’, referencing his alleged sexual conquests. But in his second year he was accused of choking and raping a woman on various occasions while she was unconscious.
In September 2016, she brought another rape allegation, sparking a police investigation. The university was alerted to the accusations but did not immediately suspend Beck from his studies or bar him from university accommodation.
Guidelines issued by Universities UK suggest that officials ‘may’ want to impose conditions such as ‘suspending the accused student from his/her studies’ and ‘excluding the accused student (for example, prohibiting the accused student from going to certain accommodation blocks or using the sports facilities or from attending a placement)’ if they are accused of a criminal offence.
Because the University of Edinburgh had not suspended Beck, in October 2016 he returned to another female student’s halls of residence after a Tinder date.
He seized hold of the teenager’s neck, compressed it and bit her on the legs and private parts, leaving her with visible injuries.
Beck was charged with two counts of rape in relation to the first woman and one count of oral rape in relation to the second woman.
At the High Court in Edinburgh in November he was acquitted of the first charges – with one not guilty verdict and one not proven verdict.
The oral rape charge was deleted by the jury, but Beck was found guilty of serious sexual assault against the second woman.
The judge, Lord Uist, said he was particularly concerned that Beck had carried out the sexual assault after he had been interviewed by police about a rape allegation brought by another student. Beck is due to be sentenced in Aberdeen on Thursday.
Rape Crisis Scotland chief executive Sandy Brindley has now called for an overhaul of services at universities to support all students who are at risk of sexual violence.
She said: ‘Universities have a responsibility to do all they can to provide safe environments for students.
‘Dedicated support services for students experiencing sexual violence are essential – students need to know where to turn if something happens.’
Last night, a University of Edinburgh spokesman maintained that the university had stuck to guidelines issued by Universities UK.
He said: ‘Cases like this are shocking and upsetting for our entire university community. We take such incidents extremely seriously and, when they happen, we will always take careful but also rapid action – based on the evidence available to us, the interests of the students concerned, and following official guidance from our umbrella body, Universities UK.
‘In cases such as these we may take precautionary action such as suspending or partially suspending a student.
‘We do, however, have to operate under the premise that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, so before taking any precautionary action we normally need to gather further information from the police, witnesses and so on. Sometimes witnesses may be initially reluctant for information to be shared more widely.
‘In this case, while we were doing this, a second allegation was received, at which point the student in question was fully suspended with immediate effect.’
Beck maintained that the women involved had consented to the sexual activity.
‘Students need to know where to turn’
CHAMPAGNE STUDENT: Abusive undergraduate Felix Beck pictured as ‘Edinburgh’s Maddest Fresher’
PROUD TRADITION: But are female students at the University of Edinburgh, above, protected properly?
SUAVE IMAGE: Felix Beck attends a black-tie ball. But his ‘charming’ demeanour masked a darker side