Former Christ the King hoops coach charged

Robert Oliva
By Jeremy Walsh

Christ the King High School experienced lows and highs last week as the school’s legendary former boys’ basketball coach was indicted by a Massachusetts grand jury on child rape charges, but both its boys’ and girls’ basketball squads won state championships.

Robert Oliva, 65, was charged last Thursday with three counts of sexually assaulting a young basketball player in a Boston hotel in 1976, the Suffolk County, Mass. DA said. Oliva’s arraignment was scheduled for mid-April, said his attorney, Michael Doolin.

“He looks forward to trying this case in a court of law and he looks forward to being acquitted,” Doolin said.

Then, on Sunday, Christ the King’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both defeated their opponents in the finals in Glens Falls to sweep the competition for the first time in the 29 years of the New York State Federation AA tournament.

Under Oliva’s guidance, Christ the King won four Catholic High School Athletic Association city championships, the last in 2007. He stepped down in January 2009.

According to the charges filed by the Massachusetts DA, Oliva abused the boy between July 31 through Aug. 1, 1976. Prosecutors contend Oliva also showed pornography to the boy during the same period.

Oliva coached at St. Theresa’s CYO in Richmond Hill from 1960 until he joined Christ the King in 1978.

“Cases of child sexual abuse are some of the most painful we see as prosecutors,” Suffolk County DA Daniel Conley said in a statement. “The victims can carry feelings of shame and guilt for decades before they’re ready to tell what happened to them. Oftentimes, it’s only in adulthood that they realize the abuse was not their fault.”

Neither the DA nor Doolin would reveal the name of the alleged abuse victim.

Oliva was sued by a former family friend, James Carlino, in July 2008, alleging Oliva sexually abused him as a teen.

“Mr. Carlino would accept a monetary amount of $750,000 and your resignation from Christ the King High School at the close of the 2008 school year as a unilateral offer to settle this matter,” a 2008 letter from Carlino’s attorney said. In return, Carlino offered to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Oliva denied the allegations in the letter and took a leave of absence from coaching at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. He officially resigned in January 2009.

The victim in the Massachusetts case disclosed the alleged abuse to Boston Police last year.

The case was still valid because any time a defendant spends outside of Massachusetts is not counted against the statute of limitations, the DA said. When Oliva returned to New York after the alleged incident, the clock on the statute of limitations stopped, allowing prosecutors to pursue criminal charges in the 34-year-old case.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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