By Candice Marcus
|Shannon McCoole was suspended as a carer while the child protection agency investigated the reports. (myspace)|
McCoole was suspended in 2013, a year before his arrest, while the child protection agency investigated reports a co-worker heard and interrupted McCoole sexually abusing a six-year-old girl in state care.
He was later cleared to return to work and police declined to investigate the case, citing a lack of evidence.
I'm sorry, an eyewitness is not enough evidence to investigate? Not even enough to interview the child?
The Child Protection Systems Royal Commission heard Families SA's Care Concern Investigations Unit decided against holding a comprehensive inquiry.
That decision meant the child, the whistleblower and McCoole were never comprehensively interviewed about the allegations.
The commission heard McCoole denied the allegations when spoken to by a Nanny SA manager, but was not asked to elaborate.
It heard the manager did not ask him questions about what happened to the child.
Some senior staff previously agreed it would take an "extraordinary explanation" from McCoole to demonstrate an innocent reason for what the co-worker observed.
Government human resources consultant, Kristin Kuehn, was questioned about why she gave advice that McCoole simply be spoken to about "performance expectations", despite knowing he had not been asked to explain the allegations.
Counsel assisting the royal commission Emily Telfer asked Ms Kuehn about her decision.
Telfer: "This was a man who was potentially going back in residential care facilities to care for vulnerable young children."
Kuehn: "Mmm hmm."
Telfer: "In those circumstances was it appropriate for you to accept a version from someone else about McCoole's responses to the allegations?"
Kuehn: "Again I cannot comment or recall how we came to the conclusions or what was decided or considered at that time."
Telfer: "What about with the benefit of hindsight, was it appropriate to accept the interview conducted by Nanny SA and their opinion about the allegations not being founded?"
Keuhn: "In hindsight it may have been more prudent to work more vigorously with the care concerns investigation unit with regard to that matter."
Child inadequately interviewed, inquiry told
The former director of Child Protection Services conceded the six-year-old girl should have been forensically interviewed.
The witness, who is the current principal practitioner at Families SA responsible for quality and practice, cannot be identified due to a non-publication order.
She was questioned by counsel assisting the royal commission Emily Telfer about her decision not to approve a forensic interview.
Telfer: "The information you have seen in the notifier report now, would it justify a forensic interview?
Witness: "Yes, I think it would."
Telfer: "Have you got any idea, thinking about it in hindsight, why you might have taken a different view?"
Witness: "I just don't know. I just can't."
The witness became emotional and was given a short break.
When asked later if she recalled on what basis she made her decision, she said she couldn't.
"I find it hard to believe that I made that decision," she said.
Shannon McCoole was actually arrested in August 2015 after a global investigation hacked a darknet pedophile site for which McCoole was ringleader.