A popular former coach of an area high school basketball team could land in prison for the rest of his life.
Bob Oliva, the former head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, was indicted by a Massachusetts grand jury on two counts of child rape on Thursday, March 25. He left the school at the start of the 2008-2009 season.
Prosecutors say Oliva raped a 14-year-old boy twice at the Boston Sheraton during a visit to Massachusetts in 1976 to attend a Red Sox-Yankees doubleheader at Fenway Park. The grand jury also indicted Oliva on one count of disseminating pornography to a minor, with the maximum penalty for that charge being five years in prison.
The legendary coach is not in custody, and his attorney Michael Doolin said that his client will plead not guilty and looks forward to clearing his name in court.
“He [Oliva] has every expectation that he will be found not guilty,” said Doolin. “He wants to clear his name and return to his life with a great deal of dignity.”
Christ the King’s legal counsel, Bernard Helldorfer, said that the school was saddened to hear about the developments, though he made it clear that no students, current or former, have come forward with any allegations.
“In his years at Christ the King, there were no complaints of this kind at all,” said Helldorfer. “The school is not taking any position at all on the specifics of the case, but there are no complaints of this nature in his file. We were shocked and surprised by these charges.”
Charges were first brought against Oliva in April 2008, when a Florida law firm representing a man named Jimmy Carlino sent a letter to Oliva, accusing the coach of sexual abuse and offering to settle the matter for $750,000 and the coach’s resignation from the Queens high school.
Carlino alleged that Oliva abused him over the course of several years in New York and Boston during the 1970s, before he moved to Florida. Carlino reported the alleged attack to authorities in Boston last year. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
Oliva, 65, won four Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Class ‘AA’ intersectional titles and coached Lamar Odom and Jayson Williams before they became NBA stars. He coached dozens of players who graduated to Division I college programs and compiled a record of 549-131 while at Christ the King. He retired abruptly at the start of the 2008-2009 season citing a heart ailment.
Oliva’s attorney said that his client has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from his Christ the King family.
“In general, he has been very happy with the support from people who worked with him and from former players,” said Doolin. “It has been a tremendous outpouring of support.”