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Homosexual paedophile cop groomed more than 50 boys in Tasmania before killing himself when he was exposed

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING

A homosexual Tasmania Police officer groomed at least 52 boys and sexually abused an unknown number of victims over a period of three decades, before killing himself when he was about to be exposed as a paedophile.

Disgraced former inspector Paul Reynolds committed suicide in 2018 at age 54, the day after being visited by investigators at his home in Westbury, but was given a full police funeral with honour guard in Launceston despite the highest echelons of policing at the time being aware of his sick crimes.

Some of the 52 known victims were sexually abused in Reynolds’ police car while he was in uniform, and other assaults took place inside his personal car, at police stations, at his home, at sporting facilities, in an office and at isolated locations.

But despite Reynolds having a reputation as a paedophile in his local area, the investigation was shelved after his death until the file was reopened during an inquest into officer suicides in 2022, resulting in an independent review which handed down damning findings in a report on Thursday.

Report author, former war crimes prosecutor Regina Weiss, found that Tasmania Police had failed to stop the sexual abuse perpetrated by Reynolds, who was lauded at the time of his death as being one of the first officers on the scene at the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

“I was told that talk of Reynolds’ inappropriate relationships with teenage boys had circulated for years through the small communities he lived and worked in and were once even reported to Tasmania Police in 2008, the investigation of which was ultimately closed with no findings,” she wrote.

“That investigation should have exposed his conduct but did not. The system failed Reynolds’ victims and the Tasmanian community, including its valued policing community.”

A second investigation was opened in 2018 which stated: “Senior Sergeant Reynolds is widely reputed in the Deloraine area as being a paedophile and it is known reputedly that ‘you do not go to Paul’s house alone’.

“There have been a number of parents who have warned Senior Sergeant Reynolds off having anything to do with their children and sons as a result of his creepy behaviour and if he is at the club, he is watched closely and not welcome, however due to his position as a police officer, there is a reluctance to confront him.

“He is reputed to groom young boys, presumably for sex and is known to be highly inappropriate around young boys, making inappropriate sexual comments and touching them inappropriately. He is reputed to target young boys who are vulnerable and lack a male figure in their life.”

Interviews with victims and messages on their phones showed that Reynolds was using Snapchat and Facebook Messenger to send pictures of his penis to boys, touching their penises, giving them naked massages, coercing them to send him explicit photos, and sending them thousands of explicit and indecent messages.

The Weiss Review has since found that Reynolds exploited his standing as a police officer to groom and sexually abuse his victims, going as far as to invent police reports he would then claim he could make disappear in exchange for sexual favours.

“One participant recalled a specific occasion between 2011-2015 when Reynolds, who at the time the participant considered to be a friend and mentor, visited his house with what looked like a police report or complaint about him,” the report stated.

“After Reynolds showed the victim-survivor the apparent police report, he said ‘if you suck my dick I can make it go away’.”

Ms Weiss was unable to find the apparent police report, and concluded that “it was likely that the report had been fabricated and presented to the participant in the form of a falsified document by Reynolds”.

Several of Reynolds’ victims believed he was using his position as a police officer to conceal and assist other child sex offenders, but the review found no evidence he was in contact with paedophile rings or groups.

“The extent of Reynolds’ grooming and sexual abuse of young males over a prolonged period is truly shocking and horrific, however there was nothing uncovered throughout the course of the Review to show or even suggest that he was collaborating with other adults in his conduct,” the report stated.

“Reynolds’ pattern of grooming and sexual abuse was considered and targeted. Analysis of thousands of messages to teenage boys in the years prior to his suicide showed a systematic approach to coaxing boys into what can only be described as a relationship of trust.”

The Review found that Reynolds “identified and pursued the vast majority of his victims through his affiliation with sport”, including in his capacity as President of the Northern Tasmanian Football Association.

“Reynolds used sport to hide his grooming, coercion and inappropriate relationships with teenage boys in plain sight. His coaching, umpiring and administrative roles facilitated the opportunity for Reynolds to access teenage boys, but also serve as a cover for his conduct,” the report stated.

Reynolds would target boys without dads or male role models, and a child sex crimes detective told the report that like many paedophiles Reynolds was skilled at picking out children who would not report being groomed and abused.

Ms Weiss found that Reynolds was able to use his status as a senior police officer to avoid being reported, and victims and witnesses said they feared retribution and not being believed.

“With the sort of guy he was portrayed as, and being a police officer, there is no way I would have felt comfortable reporting what he did to me. Everyone liked him, he was a cop. Who would believe me? I was just a kid,” one of his victims told the Review.

Police Commissioner Donna Adams apologised to victims at a press conference on Thursday, saying she was “deeply sorry for the pain and trauma” they endured.

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