Aaron Herschell

Aaron / Alexis Herschell, a violent male who previously identified as a trans woman after he was arrested, was convicted in July 2017 of the attempted rape of a 19 year old woman he met on the dating app, MeetMe. Herschell, 20, was sentenced to 2 years in jail at the High Court in Glasgow in October 2017.

No mention of Herschell’s transgender status was made at trial so we must assume he either detransitioned or he claimed to be trans in order to force female prison staff to search him, as was suspected when he first entered custody.

A second charge of raping another woman in a park in Plains, North Lanarkshire returned a not proven verdict, despite Herschell, 19, admitting to both attacks on a video recorded by friends of the first woman.

Daily Record front page 28 Oct 2016

Herschell was initially remanded on the two rape charges in October 2016 as a man named Aaron and reported as the first prisoner in Scotland to seek gender reassignment while awaiting trial for sex offences, having never declared trans status previously. Herschell was reportedly held in a segregation unit at HMYOI Polmont while on remand rather than in the section reserved for female prisoners.

In common with staff at HMP Glenochil housing Andrew Burns, female prison staff raised concerns with management and their union regarding being “ordered to carry out rubdown searches on the prisoner when necessary”, fearing they may lose their job if they refuse. HMYOI Polmont does not have full body scanners, so intimate searches (by a guard of the same sex) are a necessary part of the routine. A source told the Daily Record “No one would wish to have to carry out any kind of intimate search on a prisoner whose alleged criminal sexual behaviour will be at the centre of a High Court trial.”

*Update November 2021*

Herschell, 24,  was sentenced to 14 months in prison at Livingston Sheriff Court in November 2021 for breaching a Risk of Sexual Harm Order. 

Herschell admitted he had been in the company of children under the age of 16 at a house in Livingston, West Lothian on May 16 and 17, 2021 despite being banned from doing so under the terms of the order. 

This was the third time Herschell had failed to comply with public safety orders; after completing the sentence for attempted rape he was returned to prison after breaching the conditions of his licence within a few weeks of being released in October 2018. 

In May 2020, the Daily Mail reports that Herschell was made subject to the strict conditions of a Risk of Sexual Harm Order but he breached that by deleting a dating app and chat records from his phone and computer between 30 October and 10 December 2019, blaming alcohol for his actions.

Herschell will serve his sentence in HMP Addiewell in West Lothian, an all-male facility, and was told his name would remain on the sex offenders’ register for the next 10 years. 

*Update November 2022*

Herschell was convicted at Livingston Sheriff Court of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner towards a woman and her toddler in West Lothian, Scotland in May 2022, as well as adopting a fake identity in breach of his Risk of Sexual Harm Order. He was jailed for 45 months.

Herschell, 25, was also added to the sex offenders register indefinitely for the “sinister” crime, which saw him adopt a fake ID to persuade the mother to pair her Amazon smart tech to his and then listened in for extended periods, effectively bypassing the device’s security alerts by keeping the line open and therefore getting round the safety feature designed to alert a user when a Drop in session starts between two connected devices. He was caught after he sent the woman a message from a TikTok account set up in his real name. She googled his name and found out that Herschell was a registered sex offender.

Herschell, admitted connecting his Amazon Alexa device to his victim’s “without her knowledge” so he could “hear what she was doing”. He also remotely set up a video call so he could see the child while he read her a bedtime story, but turned off his camera so neither she nor her mother could see what he was doing.

At sentencing Herschell was told “You have an atrocious record for sexual offending and breaches of sexual harm prevention orders. “You conducted a campaign of controlling and intrusive conduct to a point that can only be described as sinister.”

The case emerged as a UK government select committee prepared to report on the growing use – and possibly sinister abuse – of smart technology to spy on others. 

Photo of Herschell via Daily Record

Media reports:

The Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sex-offender-used-amazons-alexa-to-groom-toddler-8r38bv3wh  archive

Scottish Sun https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/9835093/perv-spied-mum-baby-alexa/  archive

Scottish Sun https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/9760855/warning-sex-offender-used-amazon-alexa-prey-woman/  archive

Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11422449/MPs-fear-criminals-spying-Alexa-sex-offender-convicted-using-device-snoop.html  archive

Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10222633/Sex-offender-identified-trans-woman-Alexis-prison-sent-male-jail-14-months.html

Daily Record https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/convicted-rapist-banned-deleting-internet-21741929

Daily Record http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/call-alexis-pervert-caged-two-11408809

BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-41748746

Scottish Sun https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/scottish-news/1356861/aaron-herschell-rapist-livingston-coupar/

Daily Record http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/sex-gender-change-pomont-9141800

The Courier & Advertiser (archived) Teenager bailed ahead of alleged sex attacks in Angus, 22 Nov 2016 https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-courier-advertiser-perth-and-perthshire-edition/20161122/281822873393536

Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3881500/Fury-teenager-accused-double-rape-tells-prison-wants-live-woman-called-Alexis-rub-searches-female-guards.html

Daily Mirror http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/teenage-boy-accused-2-rapes-9142386