Pasquale Galianni, an astronomy PhD student at St Andrews, has admitted to carrying out two sex assaults at the North Haugh.
Mr Galianni was placed on the sex offenders register by judge Lord Burns at the High Court in Glasgow today (18 December) but his sentence has been deferred.
Halfway through his trail, Mr Galianni admitted to committing the crimes. His first victim, a 19 year old student, was ambushed by Mr Galianni on the North Haugh at around 5.30 pm on 28 November 2013. He pinned her to the ground and attempted to pull down her tights and underwear. The student was able to ward off the attack by calling her boyfriend and screaming down the phone. A friend was then able to come and meet her at a nearby bus stop.
A further offence was committed on 10 April 2014. Mr Galianni grabbed hold of the woman and put his arms round her. He then placed one of his hands between her legs and grabbed her buttocks.
As a result of these attacks, the University set up the Night Bus in April 2014 to keep students safe when travelling from the town centre to outlying halls at night.
Mr Galianni was cleared of a third charge of the rape of a 26 year old woman at a flat in Double Dykes Road on 9 April. The woman alleged to have had an alcohol induced blackout and so could not remember whether she had given consent as Mr Galianni claimed. CCTV footage used in Mr Galianni’s defence showed the two together, the woman looking stable and sober. The defence was made that Mr Galianni may not have realised that the woman was drunk.
The PhD student was previously found guilty of another sexual offence whilst studying in Germany.
In 2013, Mr Galianni was awarded the Cormack Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the best journal paper by a research student in astronomy at a Scottish university. His work at the University focused on testing cosmological models of dark matter versus modified gravity.
A spokesperson for the University said: “Crime statistics show that St Andrews is one of the safest communities in Europe. Thankfully this kind of crime is very rare.”