The sex scandal began when Sarah Colja was 21 and fresh out of university.
With her communications degree she landed an administration job under the wing of John Purcell, who at the time was the Assistant Director in the Office of Information Management at Western Australia Police and over 30 years her senior.
Documents seen by news.com.au reveal they began an “extramarital affair” using their work emails to arrange secret meet-ups.
During the affair Mr Purcell exchanged 23,736 personal messages with Ms Colja, which included 12 images of her “either nude, semi-nude or wearing only underwear”.
In an email on July 11, 2014, Mr Purcell received an image after he “actively invited” her to send him photos as they worked.
Another seven messages detailed plans for “intimate liaisons during work hours”, which they carried out on five of the occasions.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ms Colja said the pair would meet up “like teenagers” as Mr Prucell granted access to his office so the pair could have sex during their work day while his partner, an fellow employee, worked next door.
Documents show the affair continued from 2013 to 2016, despite Ms Colja leaving the force.
She told the Daily Mail she loved Mr Purcell, but looking back she realised he didn’t feel the same, and the relationship soured when she became pregnant.
“Looking back and having grown up, I do realise his position of power did have a big play in how he could manipulate the situation. I was treated like crap for being in love, all while trying to create a career for myself,” she said.
“Enough people knew about it, especially the higher-ups in his circle, that I was known as the ‘hussy’’ at work. And him being in the position of power he was, he had the power to move me to different floors or offices.”
Ms Colja says she now suffers from panic attacks while in office environments and according to her Facebook page she works at Coles, stacking shelves at night.
Meanwhile, Mr Purcell has been demoted after an internal audit uncovered the long-running affair. A decision he appealed, saying it was “unfair”.
Documents show that he claims to have tried to end the affair and sought counselling from his church in 2017 and 2018 to reform his “moral compass”.
However, the commission which oversaw the appeal ruled his punishment was “entirely appropriate”.
“In our view, Ms Roberts (WA Police’s director of human resources) showed the appellant considerable leniency,” the commission said. “The appellant’s misconduct can only be described as brazen and cavalier.”
Mr Purcell did not receive criminal charges as a result of his offences.
His demotion means he will no longer be able to access “sensitive or confidential material” and he will no longer have responsibility over a large number of employees, data and a multimillion-dollar budget.