Claims Puffing Billy paedophile Robert Whitehead had high-level protection

 

News article: Claims Puffing Billy paedophile Robert Whitehead had high-level protection

Claims  that Puffing Billy sex predator Robert Whitehead was enabled and protected by a cabal of powerful men are to be investigated by the state Ombudsman.

  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Written by two award winning journalists who would have checked the story and found some interest.  I really do hope they are able to track down the people who have allegedly covered this up and protected this creep who has since passed away as reported on Railpage.  What of the Puffing Billy management?  Let us all hope they have not been involved in the past.

Claims Puffing Billy paedophile Robert Whitehead had high-level protection

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  mk4c Station Master

As a volunteer at PB in the early to mid eighties I have no doubt that the most of the management and executive were well aware that he had a previous conviction for child sex offences. I was given a very unsubtle warning that his taste ran to young boys and he had served time for it in the past. However the feeling was that he had "learned his lesson" and kept to the right side of the age of consent which unfortunately proved to be quite wrong.  

Whether or not he was actually "protected" by anybody there is a more difficult question. At that stage the society (PBPS) was still run by more or less the same people as in the beginning and change was resisted by fistfuls of proxy votes at the AGM, so there was never much chance that any of the committee was ever going to be pushed out. I would imagine too that his contacts within VR would have made him very valuable. Again, it is easy to imagine that someone has "learned their lesson" and deserves a second chance when it is to your advantage to do so.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
I was a volunteer there in the late 90s, so while I never saw Whitehead, there was a culture of insiders and outsiders. The insiders controlled who was admitted to their ranks and the men they mentored tended to be "yes men" from a similar background with similar tastes and interests. Rather than promote a variety of people, I kept seeing the same type of person get ahead, while others were excluded.

Personally, my goal was to run fire patrols, so I did a variety of menial but enjoyable jobs for years until I finally managed to get into a safe working course. I did okay, but the elderly bloke who ran it was very much the sort of person I've mentioned above. He encouraged people who were essentially younger versions of himself while metaphorically rolling his eyes at anyone who didn't conform to that demographic. He gave his type of person the benefit of the doubt in grey areas, but came down hard on middle class people, all women and people who were probably a bit too smart for him if we did the same thing. I remember he marked some of us down for not noting some type of marker near the packing shed and in an attempt to get an improved mark, one of the 'outsiders' took a photo of the location as evidence that the marker was not there. That "smart-alec" became his enemy.

I went down crook just before the final assignment was due and posted it to him accompanied by a medical certificate a day late. (He wouldn't accept email, he seemed to think there was something deeply wrong with people who used it). When I fronted up to the final practical assessment a few days later, he told me that he had not opened my envelope as it arrived late and therefore I couldn't sit the practical test. A medical certificate he hadn't seen was of no use and he didn't have the envelope I sent him. I went home, emailed an appeal to the person above him in the organisation and after it was rejected without any correspondence, I haven't returned in 17 years.

Now that sort of clickiness of insiders, making their own rules, selecting who they saw as the "right" sort of people for advancement, excluding outsiders and running their own petty fiefdoms was endemic in most parts of PBR all those years ago. If you weren't the same sort of bloke that they were, you weren't going to get anywhere. If Whitehead was an insider in the same culture as I experienced while I was there, then no outsider objecting to his behaviour was ever going to be listened to.
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
I know Robert Whitehead also large involvement with other Tourist Railways, both in Victoria and interstate.  It was interstate where I first heard of his reputation in the early 1990's while he was there and the story I was told was from volunteer from another Victorian Railway.  So why have the legal experts only signalled out Puffing Billy? Is it because it is perceived as the most successful and the most likely to have money to pay compensation?

Most of the other railways has volunteers (including him) staying overnight so would have also offered the opportunity. None of them have been mentioned in the papers
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
A lot of this has been previously covered, and this latest news report has  basically nothing we didn't know already. It has all been published previously. The only thing that's new is the idea of tracking down and charging Whitehead's protectors.

When I was at PBR he had gone. However, he was at SRHC when I was there, and it was common knowledge that his taste was underage boys. On one of our long weekend trips to Echuca, I was mentoring a young bloke of about 14. I'd be rich if I had a quid for everyone who told me "Don't let young XXXX out of your sight if Whitehead's around". He made a move at XXXX one evening at dinner, and was firmly told to "Urinate off" by three or four members.

Footnote: I do agree entirely with Bogong's summation of PBR. There was an amazing culture of institutionalised favouritism which, despite my being able to drive trolleys, act as signalman, guard, shunter and fireman, finally caused me to walk away.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Thanks Valvegear, I was about to delete the 1 1/2 paragraphs in the middle of my post as it was a bit long, rambling and personal, but I'll leave it there now.

It's interesting how we independently came to the same conclusion about the organisation. I do hope it has changed (or been forced to change) but with such a large outfit being heavily dependent on volunteers, there's a chance that the professional managers (then and now) have no idea of the way things really worked for volunteers.
  Lockspike Deputy Commissioner

I do hope it has changed (or been forced to change) but with such a large outfit being heavily dependent on volunteers, there's a chance that the professional managers (then and now) have no idea of the way things really worked for volunteers.
Bogong
With there having been at least one other convicted paedophile in a leadership position at PB, I do wonder if there were only two rotten apples in the barrel.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Equally alarming are the people who have recently been removed from the AAT having allowed convicted paedophiles to stay in the country and a deportation order has been made.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
With there having been at least one other convicted paedophile in a leadership position at PB, I do wonder if there were only two rotten apples in the barrel.
"Lockspike"
In my time there, (after the two in question had gone,) I believe there were no more "rotten apples". Experience suggests that people do know or suspect and the grapevine works well, however there were no whispers that I ever heard at PBR.
  Lockspike Deputy Commissioner

With there having been at least one other convicted paedophile in a leadership position at PB, I do wonder if there were only two rotten apples in the barrel.
In my time there, (after the two in question had gone,) I believe there were no more "rotten apples". Experience suggests that people do know or suspect and the grapevine works well, however there were no whispers that I ever heard at PBR.
Valvegear
Good to know
  grime Locomotive Fireman

Ombudsman seeks public assistance with Whitehead investigation

Wednesday 12 July 2017

The Victorian Ombudsman has begun an investigation into several matters involving the Victorian Railways, its successor organisations and associated rail entities, and convicted child sex offender, Robert Whitehead. The case was referred to the Ombudsman by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

The investigation includes Mr Whitehead’s:

   re-employment with Victorian Railways and its successor organisations after being imprisoned for child sex offences from 1959–1960
   leasing of State-owned property from Victorian Railways and its successor organisations
   appointment as Secretary of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society and involvement with the Emerald Tourist Railway Board
   volunteer positions with the above, and related entities.


The investigation will also examine how complaints or allegations about Mr Whitehead were received and handled by these entities.

“We are now keen to speak to any current or former employees or volunteers at these organisations who have knowledge of the issues we are investigating”, said Ombudsman Deborah Glass.

The Ombudsman's investigation is not able to directly consider or investigate actual incidents of alleged sexual abuse. Anyone who wishes to report allegations of sexual abuse should contact Victoria Police. For support and advice relating to sexual assault, call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.

Interested persons can contact the investigation at: investigation@ombudsman.vic.gov.au or by calling 03 9613 6192 or (Regional) 1800 806 314
  historian Deputy Commissioner
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
ETRB Board and CEO all sacked/fallen on swords. Interim board in place.

Puff statement :

https://puffingbilly.com.au/news/ombudsman-investigation/
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
https://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11397844.htm

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