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Premier Daniel Andrews today apologised in the Victorian parliament to people abused by now-dead sex offender Robert Whitehead, saying the community let the victims down.
Whitehead had used his position at the Puffing Billy steam train to abuse children for decades, while the tourist attraction's board repeatedly failed to report complaints to police.
Mr Andrews said for generations the railway has been a place for "memories bathed in sunshine".
© Herald Sun Deceased pedophile Robert Whitehead.But beneath that veneer lied "a much darker, much more sinister truth", where abuse was carried out and ignored.
"As a collective, we shamefully diverted our gaze," the premier said.
"People knew. People knew and they did nothing. Some of our most trusted institutions and individuals not only failed to speak up, they even tried to cover it up.
"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village as well to utterly fail a child."
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass recommended a state apology last year after investigating Whitehead's involvement with the iconic train and other railway bodies.
© AAP Victorian Ombudsman Deborah GlassMs Glass also examined Anthony Hutchins' decades-long involvement in Puffing Billy before he was convicted of 66 child sex offences against five boys in 1987.
Mr Andrews said there is no way the state can restore all that has been stolen but it can end the culture of secrecy.
He said victims were heard, seen and believed.
"On behalf of the parliament, the government, and the people of Victoria, for every childhood that was stolen, for every future that was compromised, for every family that was betrayed and for every life that was destroyed, we are sorry."
This article first appeared on www.msn.com
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