A youth sports coach was arrested on suspicion of molesting dozens of underage girls via the internet by persuading them to send him indecent photographs of themselves, including some which allegedly involved acts considered rape, police said Wednesday.
Beno Reinhorn, 35, a father of two from Herzliya, was arrested last week, police said. Details of the case, in which he suspected of contacting at least 140 girls for the purposes of molestation, were previously kept under gag order
Police said Reinhorn, who coached a youth handball team in Herzliya, is suspected of abusing dozens of minors on the web over several years “including rape, sexual harassment, molestation, indecent acts, computer crimes, and other offenses against children aged 9-15.”
On Tuesday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extended Reinhorn’s arrest until August 20.
Under Israeli law, persuading a minor to carry out a sex act via the internet can be considered rape or molestation even if there was never any physical meeting.
“This is one of the most serious and severe incidents of pedophilia, both in terms of the severity of the offenses and the scope of the activities, which were revealed to Israeli Police in connection with sex offenses against minors via the internet,” police said in a statement.
So far investigators from the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit who are handling the case have spoken with more than 140 girls Reinhorn contacted.
After establishing a connection with his victims while “blatantly exploiting their innocence and their desire to model and become famous” he would persuade them to send him “content of a sexual nature to the point of carrying out acts of sodomy and rape,” according to the statement.
Police said the suspect was active for a number of years and developed a systematic method of operation to deceive the girls.
Investigators believe Reinhorn would monitor the profiles of celebrities, photographers, producers and other figures from the fashion world who were active with children, Hebrew media reported. He would then open fake profiles on social media alleging to be an agent of the related models or producers and make contact with girls via social media and the WhatsApp messaging app.
He would then allegedly persuade them to send him images of a sexual nature.
During the course of the investigation police were able to directly monitor in real time as the suspect apparently tried to persuade children to send him inappropriate material.
On some occasions, officers telephoned parents during the night to warn them that their children were at that moment being lured into danger by a suspected predator, media reported.
“All this, while the suspect persuaded the victims to keep the matters secret and to not involve their parents,” the police statement said. “On a number of occasions, when parents or family members tried to make contact with the suspect to confront him, he cut off the connection and blocked any option of making contact.”
Reinhorn is not cooperating with investigators, who believe there were many more victims, Hadashot TV news reported.
Police said they are still working on gathering testimony from additional victims that the suspect may possibly have contacted or harmed.
The force urged parents, educators and family members to be alert to similar incidents and to immediately report any suspicions to the police hotline for internet violence on the 105 number.