Former Senior Constable Paul Rabbas, 51, was dismissed by Victoria Police in October last year after three separate breach of discipline charges were proven – one of disgraceful conduct and two of improper conduct.
In addition to the photograph of the child in custody and the inappropriate and sexist emails, Rabbas also intentionally lied to managers and investigators, coerced others into telling fibs and not co-operating with police, and used and disclosed information for “personal interests”, an inquiry officer found.
The Police Registration and Services Board accepted he has taken “some responsibility for his actions” but concluded in November, after Rabbas applied for his dismissal to be reviewed, that it was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
The full details of Rabbas’ misconduct have been revealed after the PRSB published its 32-page decision and rejected his request to keep his name under wraps.
Rabbas “unequivocally disputed” that the first of his three personal relationships scrutinised across two years had demonstrated that he was willing to lie to senior staff and use his position as a police officer “as a means to seek, engage and maintain intimate relationships”.
“Although he did not dispute, either to any significant degree or in most cases at all, the factual foundation for the matters,” the PRSB said.
In about April 2017, Rabbas and the wife of a fellow police member had what has been described as a “lawful sexual relationship” but it took months for his bosses to work it all out.
“At various times during 2017 the applicant (Rabbas) intentionally lied to a number of police managers about the nature of the relationship while those police managers were trying to understand and manage family and workplace conflict issues which had, in part, emerged as a result of the relationship,” the board’s decision states.
“Further and in 2018, the applicant admitted the truth about the sexual nature of that relationship to a senior police officer.”
However, Rabbas alleged to that same officer that his police colleague (the woman’s husband) had subjected her to family violence.
He also told his lover not to co-operate with police and “coached” her about what to say in the likely event she was contacted by the investigating officer.
In February 2018, Rabbas arrested “a male child of African appearance” who sustained injuries and had facial bleeding.
He took a photograph of the boy and sent it to the married woman with the caption “chasing blackfellas and got him” but immediately asked her to delete it as “he could get into trouble”.
Rabbas admitted he had breached the human rights of the child in his custody, treated him in a degrading way, acted contrary to his best interests and unlawfully interfered with his privacy.
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‘HE WOULD LOSE HIS JOB’
In the same month his affair started, Rabbas met another woman while at a “police incident”.
Three weeks after the meeting, Rabbas accessed Victoria Police’s online database LEAP (Law Enforcement Assistance Program) and searched for information about her age, home address, mobile phone number and associates, the inquiry officer found.
One month after the checks, Rabbas contacted the woman via social media and met up with her on several occasions “while on routine patrol duty”, the PRSB said.
The pair began a “lawful sexual relationship” in May 2017 and Rabbas also met her sister.
Rabbas was told in June 2018 he was being investigated over a complaint against him concerning his relationship with the woman. He was also told not to discuss the investigation.
“On the same day and again subsequently, the applicant communicated with the woman … and her sister through social media chat channels, requested that each of them delete all of their Facebook messages relevant to him and ‘lie’ to investigators by saying they had met him on Instagram and Facebook, otherwise he would lose his job,” the PRSB said.
Rabbas admitted that he lied when he said he had met the women via social media during an interview with taskforce investigators in August 2018.
The board examined a significant amount of evidence when reviewing his dismissal including “an extensive exchange of correspondence between the parties”.
His LEAP checks were found to be a breach of the woman’s privacy for Rabbas’ own personal interest and – in addition to other behaviour – amounted to “disgraceful conduct”.
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ON THE BEAT
In October 2017, Rabbas again met a woman while attending a police incident and spoke to her via social media. The pair commenced a sexual relationship in March 2018.
Three months later, Rabbas was driving past her house with a colleague and noticed a vehicle “parked unusually across the driveway”.
He checked the vehicle’s registration and realised that it belonged to one of her ex-boyfriends.
“Although the vehicle check was found to have been conducted for legitimate purposes, the applicant (Rabbas) was found to have used and later disclosed the car check information to the woman for his own personal interests,” the PRSB said, noting the driver’s privacy had been breached.
Rabbas also exchanged a series of inappropriate emails in May 2017 while working as a constable at a suburban police station which amounted to a charge of improper conduct.
They were sent to another police member using the force’s email system and were about a new Victoria Police employee, the PRSB said.
Rabbas remarked about her physical appearance and made sexually suggestive comments including getting her on his boat, references to “big titties” and that “she would be dirty”.
He gave differing accounts “about the extent of his role in the email exchange” to the inquiry.
The PRSB said his actions were individually and cumulatively capable of damaging the integrity both of Victoria Police in general and Rabbas in particular.
“The inquiry officer pointed out that the nature of the offending set out in the charges is highly corrosive of community trust and confidence and must inevitably and negatively impact on the reputation of Victoria Police,” the board said in its decision.
“We agree with the inquiry officer that the applicant’s demonstrable tendency to lack honesty and candour in his personal and professional relationships was a recurring and highly damaging theme across each of the three discipline charges.”