Paul Kent: Reynolds’ case a cautionary tale
CUT TO: A young woman in bed as her boyfriend, a professional athlete, stands over her. He is frustrated, yelling at her to leave.
The vision, amateurish and grainy, reveals to the audience the woman is secretly filming the exchange on her mobile phone.
CUT TO: A montage of comment on social media and from professional outrage groups. Insults drift and disappear across the screen. The athlete, revealed to be Wests Tigers' Josh Reynolds, is being lacerated.
CUT TO: NRL boss Todd Greenberg at his desk, being updated on the social media response. Greenberg picks up a report, title page Integrity Unit …
INTERNAL SHOT (grainy vision):
REYNOLDS: Can you get out? I want you out of my house right now. I want you out now. I want you out right now or I'm going to flip it …
THE WOMAN: Why? What did I do?
And then cue the opening credits for what should be a Netflix special.
There are 40 already like it already on Netflix, of honest men or women deceived by their good hearts, but none yet featuring a high-profile athlete so readily manipulated
The only failing Reynolds' story has for a script is that it is so unbelievable it appears far-fetched.
Within hours of explosive allegations revealed on Thursday night, other men contacted Reynolds offering their own examples of deception.
They joined the six men he already had to give statements of how they were similarly duped out of thousands of dollars. For some, it was her cervical cancer. For others, brain cancer.
Multiple doctors have been subpoenaed to testify they either did not see her at all or that they saw her for completely different circumstances than the men believed they were paying for.
If there is good news, it is that none of the funerals for her mother were even necessary. Her mum told Channel Nine "enough's enough, she needs to be stopped".
For Reynolds, it was a one-night stand that resulted in a twin pregnancy. Telling several people he "wanted to do the right thing" he tried to make the relationship work.
The twins were lost, the couple separated, then reconciled and suddenly another pregnancy. Twins again, if you could believe it.
But these twins were lost as well.
There was another break-up, an argument where the young woman fled and told an independent witness, who she stayed with that night, that he yelled at her.
Months later, after Reynolds finally responded to a flood of text messages pleading for another chance. In a text, he declared their relationship was over and not to contact him anymore.
The woman went to police and pressed charges alleging physical violence, which Reynolds denies.
Reynolds was seen heading into NRL headquarters last October soon after the woman told the independent witness that Reynolds was abusive towards her.
It highlights the stakes the NRL's new no-fault, stand-down policy has raised.
Reynolds knew he was vulnerable.
Jack de Belin, Tyrone May and several others had ready sat out the season under the code's policy. De Belin is fighting his charges, and the matter is yet to be determined.
Reynolds wanted to get ahead of the story and went to the NRL with full disclosure.
While the meeting remains confidential, there is little doubt it contributed heavily towards Friday's announcement that Reynolds would not be stood down ahead of next month's opening round.
But what of others?
Two years agok, South Sydney quietly but continually accused the Roosters of being behind the leaked footage that led to an investigation into Sam Burgess, amid calls he need to be stood down.
Again, the reaction was swift and severe.
Behind the scenes the Rabbitohs believed it was a set-up, hatched earlier in the season by a Roosters-friendly young woman, with captive eyes, and sat on until the right time arrived, which came when the two teams met each other in the preliminary final.
The Roosters laughed heartily at the allegation, somewhat pleased at the paranoia, but it highlighted the stakes.
How long until a frivolous allegation is made for more sinister purposes? A big game on the horizon, a player at the mercy of a big-time gambler?
Greenberg, the NRL boss, took a big step for the game. He stood for the players by refusing to stand down Reynolds and allowing him to play, a decision made on as full an understanding as possible at this time.
"Josh Reynolds has been upfront and open about his situation," Greenberg said in a statement.
"He proactively advised the integrity unit prior to the commencement of the police investigation and I would encourage other players to be as forthcoming."
Greenberg reserved a decision on Parramatta's Maika Sivo, who faces court in Fiji on February 17 after a woman alleged inappropriate advances late last year and Fijian police charged him.
It took a lot of work from Reynolds and his manager, George Mimis, and his legal team to get the NRL comfortable enough to make Friday's decision.
There is no doubt it was helped by the public disclosure, through the media, of what Reynolds claims he was contending with.
While the release of sensitive information should not be up to the NRL or the integrity unit to decide, clubs should be aware there is power in fighting for their player.
The Tigers, remember, put out a statement in December acknowledging Reynolds had been charged and then absurdly tried to close it down by ending the statement with: "As this is an ongoing legal matter, Wests Tigers will be making no further comment at this time."
It did him more harm than good, inviting vicious comment on social media.
And with the NRL so reactionary to social media commentary, it could have severely impacted this season as Reynolds waits for his trial beginning April 29.
There is also now a chance the public prosecutor will review the latest evidence and drop the charges before it reaches court.
Either way, the Reynolds matter could prove to be a cautionary tale for an entire sporting country.
A Netflix series in our own backyard, with very real costs …
END CREDITS: Reynolds walks to a door in his house, his hand reaches for the handle. He stops, pauses, and walks away.
CUT TO: The camera passes through the door to reveal a bedroom filled with brand new cuddly baby toys, a cot, a baby dummy still in its box on a cabinet.
Reynolds, who once spoke joyously of being a father before being devastated by the miscarriages, has been unable to enter the room since the whole saga began.
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