Hobsons Bay Weekly "> Petition to change street named after paedophile priest


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Petition to change street named after paedophile priest

A mother and daughter are petitioning to change the name of a Melbourne street named after paedophile Catholic priest Victor Rubeo.

Rubeo, 78, died on December 16 last year, the day he was meant to front a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 30 child sex abuse charges, allegedly committed against twin boys at Laverton.

Point Cook woman Christine Dunsmore and her mother Jen Austin have lodged a petition with Hobsons Bay Council to change the name of Rubeo Avenue in Altona Meadows.

Rubeo was a priest in the parish of Laverton from 1969 to 1972. The parish takes in St Martin de Porres at Laverton.

Before coming to St Martin de Porres, Rubeo assisted at St Mary's in Altona.

Ms Dunsmore said that when she was 14 her father died, and Father Rubeo was a frequent visitor to her home.


"He just had a strong influence on my mother, especially when she became a widow. He was around our house a lot and my brothers were altar boys within the Laverton parish as well.

"He was a paedophile and he shouldn't be revered in any way, shape or form. I know the pain and suffering he's caused the victims that I know, not to mention the ones I don't know."

Ms Dunsmore said she decided to petition to change the name of the avenue because of her friendship with Tony Hersbach.

Mr Hersbach was 42 when he told his wife, Lu, that Rubeo had abused him from the age of 11 to 18 at Laverton.

"From [when I was] ages 11 to 15, Rubeo lived just a few doors from our place in Ulm Street, Laverton," Mr Hersbach said.

"The abuse took place in his house in Ulm Street. From [when I was] 15 to 18, Rubeo moved to a presbytery in Pearce Street, Laverton, next to the current St Martin de Porres church. He also abused me there on numerous occasions."

I totally, totally trusted him....He has betrayed and exploited so many people in this area.

Even after the abuse, Rubeo continued to be a dominating influence in Mr Hersbach's family life, until he was 42. Mr Hersbach said he first reported Rubeo to the archdiocese on August 10, 1994.

"He actually offered to resign and the church refused to accept his resignation. They left him in his parish at Boronia for a further two-and-a-half years."

It was only when a Doveton woman filed a police complaint about Rubeo that he admitted to offences against Mr Hersbach and his twin brother Will.

In October 1996, Rubeo pleaded guilty in Ringwood Magistrates Court to two counts of indecent assault against the Hersbach twins.

He was given a two-year good behaviour bond.

"He walked out with no conviction," Mr Hersbach said. "It represented a very, very small part of the truth."

Last year, police laid 30 new charges against Rubeo — 24 allegedly committed against Mr Hersbach and six against his brother.

Ms Austin said that when she found out about Rubeo she felt sick, angry and betrayed.

"I totally, totally trusted him. I felt just totally, totally ill and betrayed, and I have witnessed what it's done to Tony and his brother.

"He [Rubeo] has betrayed and exploited so many people in this Laverton area and so many people have said to me, 'It's not right that his name is up there'.

"And that's how I feel. When I see that [sign] I just feel like pulling it down."

The council was to table the petition at its meeting last night.