Classmates stripped off in front of transgender rapist they didn't know was awaiting trial

Isla Bryson at the High Court in Glasgow during her trial for raping two women - Mike Gibbons
Isla Bryson at the High Court in Glasgow during her trial for raping two women - Mike Gibbons  

Young college students enrolled in a beauty course stripped off in front of Isla Bryson, unaware the transgender rapist had been charged with two sex attacks, it has emerged.

Bryson signed up for a beauty skills course at Ayrshire College's Kilwinning Campus in 2021, while awaiting trial, and used the name Annie with fellow students, who were mostly young women.

Bryson's former classmates disclosed how they took off their clothes in front of the 31-year-old for spray tan sessions, unaware of the rapist's real identity or the rape charges.

The students described Bryson as "overpowering" and "disruptive", saying the rapist accused classmates of being homophobic before being asked to leave the course.

They have demanded answers from college chiefs, who denied any knowledge of the charges Bryson was facing.

Bryson was charged under the rapist's original name of Adam Graham and first appeared in court more than three years ago for sex crimes committed in Clydesdale and Glasgow in 2016 and 2019.

The disclosure came the day after prison chiefs removed Bryson from Cornton Vale's women's prison in Stirling, where the 31-year-old was moved against the wishes of court chiefs after being convicted this week of two rapes.

Nicola Sturgeon announced the about-turn following a huge public backlash but repeatedly refused to say whether she considered Bryson to be a man or a woman.

The First Minister is locked in a battle with the UK Government over her Bill allowing people to self-identify their legal gender.

Rachel Ferguson, 21, a nail technician from Dundonald, in Ayrshire, and a former classmate of Bryson on the beauty course, told the Daily Record: "It really scares me to look back and realise she was watching me with no clothes on after being charged with this.

"It makes me feel physically sick and violated. We should have known about these charges. It's not right that we didn't know."

She said her experience of removing her clothes in front of Bryson had left her "sickened".

She said: "Being a beauty course, you need to take your clothes off for some of it. We were doing spray tanning at one point and I was a model. You need to stand practically naked.

"Looking back, with what we know now, it's so scary to think she was watching me with no clothes on. Someone should have told a class full of young women what was going on. Anything could have happened."

Ms Ferguson said Bryson had started the course, which was "full of young girls", when starting a transition to becoming female and refused to "do practical stuff at first because she said she didn't feel comfortable".

Ms Ferguson added: "We had all kinds of accusations thrown at us in the middle of the classroom. I was being verbally attacked. She went to the head of the department and said we were all discriminating against her and were homophobic.

"I was really offended and hurt by that and didn't go to college for three weeks because I was scared of the way she was coming at me.

"I didn't even look at her because if I did, it gave her ammunition to say things to me. The way she spoke to the lecturers was disgusting. She made two of them cry. I found her very forceful and intimidating. Her true self came out during that time."

Rachel Ferguson claims Ayrshire College students were asked to strip in front of transgender rapist Isla Bryson in 2021 - Victoria Stewart/Daily Record
Rachel Ferguson claims Ayrshire College students were asked to strip in front of transgender rapist Isla Bryson in 2021 - Victoria Stewart/Daily Record  

She said Bryson was later asked to leave the course, a decision she understood to be linked to the allegations the rapist made about other students.

Abi Nixon, 18, from Ardrossan, told of her shock at learning of Bryson's conviction this week after also taking part in the course alongside the rapist.

She said: "We all did the one-day spray tanning course. We had next to nothing on and this was before 'Annie' had been removed from the course.

"She hadn't fully transitioned yet but we all accepted her for who she wanted to be. It was a complete and utter shock to the system to see what she had been convicted of."

An Ayrshire College spokesman said: "We can confirm the individual was enrolled as a student at Ayrshire College for a three-month period in 2021 and is no longer a student with the college.

"Ayrshire College had no prior knowledge of this individual being charged with any offences. We will not be making any further comment on this matter."

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Officers have engaged with Ayrshire College following concerns which were raised regarding a former student. Following these enquiries, no criminality has been reported to police."


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