STRIKE Force Georgiana had resulted in 11 people being charged with 440 offences involving 110 victims and the numbers were growing almost daily, strike force investigator Detective Sergeant Kristi Faber has told the special commission of inquiry in Newcastle.
In a session just before lunch on Friday Detective Sergeant Faber said the strike force had done extremely good work.
She said 13 detectives over five years had worked on Georgiana matters. Investigating child sexual abuse was physically hard, and mentally extremely hard.
Detective Sergeant Faber said no one in Georgiana was ever discouraged from investigating matters involving the church and she had never had ‘‘any resistance whatsoever’’ from her superior officers to such investigations.
Sergeant Faber was questioned about her account of a conversation with Newcastle Herald reporter Joanne McCarthy, which took place on May 30, 2008.
Her file note indicated that Ms McCarthy had named Peter Fox as a source of her information about two alleged offenders.
She stood by this record despite suggestions from Mr Fox’s counsel that she was merely assuming Mr Fox had leaked. Mark Cohen, for Mr Fox, suggested to her that Mr Fox had simply told Ms McCarthy and that he knew nothing about the matter and had suggested she ring Sergeant Faber’s Lake Macquarie command.
Sergeant Faber acknowledged that Ms McCarthy had built a substantial database about matters involving the Catholic Church and paedophile offences. Asked if this information had been helpful to the police, Sergeant Faber said: ‘‘Yes, it has.’’
She said people had also come forward to the police after reading about the investigations in the Herald.
She said that then head of the diocese, Bishop Michael Malone, had also been extremely helpful and had given permission to search any church building or church record.
Sergeant Faber said she had heard the term ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ before this investigation but that it came from Mr Fox in a conversation with him in September 2012.
She said Mr Fox had told her that she had done such a good job investigating the church that she should be careful and that her life was in danger from the Catholic mafia.
Sergeant Faber said she laughed at the suggestion but that Mr Fox warned her it was a serious concern.
The commission will resume on Friday afternoon for what is expected to be a short continuation of Sergeant Faber’s evidence.