‘I was about 14 when he started to groom me’
A SERIAL paedophile who spent almost three decades grooming, drugging and molesting vulnerable children - also filming and bragging about his crimes online - has been unmasked as a paediatric nurse who worked for almost 18 years on the children's ward at Launceston General Hospital.
Last October, Launceston police laid over a dozen charges against James (Jim) Geoffrey Griffin, a 69-year-old man from Legana, who had worked since 2001 on Ward 4K - the Paediatric Unit attached to Launceston Hospital.
The charges relate to sexual offences against children as young as 11.
They date back to 1987 when Griffin worked as a volunteer ambulance officer for the Tasmanian Ambulance Service, and continued through to 2019, during which time Griffin was working at Launceston General Hospital while also volunteering as "medic" for a local children's sporting team.
One of the survivors, Keelie McMahon, first met "Jim" through a hospital Christmas party, where her mother also works.
"I was about 14 [when he] started to groom me," Keelie said.
"It was just showing me a lot more attention than he would most people. He used to hug everyone so that was nothing unusual but he started getting a bit more hands on, longer hugs."
That grooming escalated and one night in 2011, while 14-year-old Keelie was attending a sleepover at his place, Griffin came up to where she was laying.
"There were a fair few of us there watching movies and then once we decided to go to sleep, that's when he decided to take it a bit further with me."
With other children sleeping close by, Griffin sexually assaulted Keelie.
"I remember waking up the next morning and going out to the kitchen and Jim just acted like nothing had happened. He just kept talking to me normally and went about his day, which made me second guess what had happened," she said.
Six months later, during a shared family camping trip, Griffin - then aged 62 - sexually assaulted Keelie again.
Initially Keelie stayed quiet. But in May last year, Keelie learnt that another young woman, Alice* had reported to police that she had also been sexually abused by Griffin between the ages of 11 and 14, commencing in 2009.
According to the charge sheet, obtained by the Mercury, that abuse involved "sexual intercourse" and during a police interview, Griffin and "made admissions of criminal sexual misconduct in relation to her".
Keelie also decided to make a report against Griffin and by October last year, five female victims had come forward with allegations ranging from the late 1980s through to 2012.
Police searched Griffin's home where they located "a significant" amount of child exploitation material, some of which he had created himself involving a young girl known to him.
In an online forum uncovered by detectives, dated March 2015, they also discovered a post of his, bragging that he would drug young girls to sedate them so that he could film himself abusing them.
He was charged on October 3, 2019, but 11 days later, was found in his home, unresponsive having consumed a dangerous cocktail of drugs. He died four days later in hospital.
The coroner's report states: "When he took the drugs which caused his death he did so with the express intention of ending his own life voluntarily and alone. No doubt the charges he was facing at the time of his death motivated his action."
Now, an explosive new podcast by investigative journalist Camille Bianchi explores the full series of events, with detailed interviews from victims and fellow nurses.
"When he died the cogs of justice just creaked to a halt. It was 'case closed'," says Bianchi.
"He got to choose his way out. He got to have power over the outcome.
"For the victims, there is too much 'unfinished business'. This podcast is their day in court."
*Not her real name
Camille Bianchi's True Crime podcast The Nurse is available from today via Spotify, Apple podcasts or any podcast app. Nina Funnell is a freelance journalist and this reporting is funded by the Walkley Public Fund.
Originally published as 'I was about 14 when he started to groom me'