Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Coach pleads guilty

Former New York coach pleads guilty to 1970s sex assault in Boston
E-mail | Print Posted by Martin Finucane April 4, 2011 02:18 PM
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By Michael Rezendes and Scott Allen, Globe Staff

A former high-profile New York City basketball coach was convicted this morning of molesting a teenager while visiting Boston in the 1970s, under a plea deal that will allow him to avoid jail time.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Robert Oliva

Robert Oliva, who resigned as basketball coach at Christ the King Regional High School after the abuse allegations surfaced last year, could have faced two life sentences, if convicted of two counts of rape of a child. However, under an agreement with Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, Oliva pled guilty to rape as well as disseminating pornography in exchange for five years of probation, which he will serve while wearing a monitoring device on his ankle.

Oliva also agreed to never coach children again.

"I lost my childhood to Bob Oliva," said tearful victim Jimmy Carlino in a dramatic victim impact statement to Suffolk Superior Judge Carol S. Ball. Carlino has said he was molested more than 100 times by Oliva in several Northeastern states in the 1970s when Carlino was a teenager growing up in the Ozone Park section of Queens.

Carlino's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said today that he has filed a $20 million civil lawsuit in New York against Oliva, the Catholic diocese that oversees Christ the King Regional High School, as well as several other Catholic organizations. He said he wanted to know whether there had been sexual abuse complaints against Oliva that went unheeded.

The New York statute of limitations - the period after a crime during which prosecutors may file charges - for Oliva's alleged crimes expired long ago. But Conley's office was able to present evidence regarding sexual abuse that occurred in 1976 while Carlino -- then 14 -- and Oliva were in Boston to see a Red Sox-Yankees doubleheader. That's because the time limit on filing charges in Massachusetts stopped when Oliva left Massachusetts and returned to New York.

Carlino accepted the plea agreement, but one of the key witnesses in the case said Oliva belongs behind bars.

"Regardless of how long ago the deviant crime committed by Oliva was committed, and regardless that Oliva lives out of the state of Massachusetts, this plea deal is too lenient for the admitted sex offender Oliva," wrote Sam Albano to Judge Ball. "Oliva has continued his deviant ways as a sexual predator on young men, since this particular incident in 1976 and if not incarcerated will continue to be a threat to society." Albano was a former friend of Oliva who testified against him before the grand jury that indicted him.

Assistant District Attorney Leora Joseph said the plea deal achieved the district attorney's major goal, protecting children from abuse. Under the deal, Oliva cannot coach any longer and he will have to wear a monitoring device to track his movements while he's on probation. Oliva will serve his sentence in South Carolina where he now resides.

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