The police investigation of Beno Reinhorn, a handball coach who allegedly sexually abused more than 140 girls ages 9 to 15, will now turn to confronting him with photos and videos that were found on his computers.
Reinhorn, 35, lives in Herzliya and is married with two children. He is suspected of using software that obscured his activities and of changing phone numbers he used for texting minors, thus concealing the source of these messages.
This software made it difficult for police to trace Reinhorn, whom they were following for months. Police are now trying to reconstruct correspondence with minors that Reinhorn deleted from phones he was using. So far Reinhorn has denied these accusations, saying it wasn’t him. “You’ve got the wrong person,” he said. He refuses to cooperate with investigators and is maintaining his right to silence.
Since the news of this case broke last Wednesday the police have received 20 complaints about other girls and youths he allegedly abused and these are now under investigation as well. Unit 105, which is handling the case, estimates that Reinhold approached hundreds of girls. The investigation is now focusing on collecting testimonies and matching them with photos on his computers.
Reinhorn was arrested last week on suspicion of committing rape, sexual harassment and sodomy. Police custody over him was extended until Monday. Reinhorn, who works for the Herzliya municipality, has for years been a handball coach for children and youth teams and is the coach of a competitive Herzliya girls’ team called Bnot Herzliya.
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The allegations are that he contacted girls on social networks, posing as a male or a female agent for a modeling company, a producer or a bathing suit designer. He asked the girls if they wanted to model. He then corresponded with them on WhatsApp and offered them auditions, persuading them to send him texts with a sexual nature and to perform sexual acts on themselves. The police investigated whether Reinhorn committed sexual acts against girls he was coaching, but at this stage suspicions are that all the offenses involved girls he met online.
In 2007 Reinhorn was in charge of a modeling forum on the “Tappuz” website, in which people from the modeling world talked freely to people wanting to join the industry. In a story published that year on the nrg website, Reinhorn said: “Today there are so many crooks on the internet, posing as modeling agents to 14 year-old girls. This forum is an island of decency in a stormy sea, with lots of information on where to begin, how to reach agencies, where to find professional articles and tips on how to detect con men online.”
D. is a photographer who ran the forum with Reinhorn. She told Haaretz that she was shocked to learn of his arrest. “I can’t get out of my head the notion that there are monsters among us posing as good-hearted people. I would never have suspected him. He was always courteous and respectful. I met his wife and never even considered that under the façade lurked something so terrible and dark.”
D. hasn’t been in touch with Reinhorn for many years, but she related how they met. “As far as I remember he established the forum and I joined him after being active there for a while. He didn’t belong to any agency but knew many scouts, photographers and girls. He was always helpful and involved the parents, talking nicely and never in a sleazy way, unlike other characters in this field,” she said.
Parents expressed criticism of the sports club in which Reinhorn worked, arguing that they should be more meticulous in checking out teachers and coaches they hire. The head of the municipal parents’ committee told Haaretz that “this incident requires looking into employees that were not trained as teachers.” The club did not respond to Haaretz’s inquiries. The municipality has launched a psychological support service that is open around the clock to provide emotional support for pupils and parents.
Police say they have thousands of photos, videos and WhatsApp chats between Reinhorn and minor girls. They are trying to contact additional girls who appear in photos but have not been identified yet. Police say this is one of the most serious pedophile cases they’ve encountered, both in terms of the severity of the violations and the scope of activity involving sex crimes against minors using the internet.
According to police, Reinhorn developed methods of deceiving girls to get their cooperation. He urged them to keep things secret and not tell their parents. The police added that parents and family members had tried to confront Reinhorn but to no avail.
A court in Lod consented to the police request to lift the gag order on the case, hoping that publishing his name and face would help locate further victims. Police are asking parents, educators and anyone who thinks they know victims to contact Unit 105. Reinhorn is being investigated by the Lahav 433 unit following a six-month covert operation in which he was followed with the help of the cyber unit at the State Prosecutor’s office, in coordination with welfare services.
Reinhorn’s lawyers said he was innocent until proven otherwise, and that they had complete faith in the justice system. “Every suspect deserves his day in court,” they said.