Christ the King High School’s former legendary basketball coach pleaded not guilty this week to child rape charges in Massachusetts’ Suffolk County Superior Court, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
Robert Oliva, 65, of Lynbrook, L.I., was arraigned Monday before Suffolk Superior Court Clerk Magistrate Connie Wong on charges he sexually assaulted a young basketball player in a Boston Hotel in 1976, the DA said.
Oliva, who led the Middle Village school to four Catholic High School Athletic Association city championships, was formally charged Monday with two counts of child rape and one count of disseminating materials harmful to minors, according to Conley.
Wong set bail at $10,000 and mandated he have no contact with the alleged victim, witnesses in the case or with any child under the age of 16. The former coach will return to court for his trial May 3, 2011.
“Bob looks forward to coming up to Boston in 2011 and having all the facts go in front of a jury,” Oliva’s attorney, Michael Doolin, said. “We’re optimistic he’ll be found not guilty.”
Prosecutors allege that the then 32-year-old Oliva sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy twice and showed him pornography at the Sheraton Boston Hotel between July 30 and Aug. 1, 1976. The victim, who disclosed the alleged abuse to Boston police last year, has not been named.
“The defendant, a longtime family friend of the victim, brought the victim here to watch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park,” Assistant District Attorney Leora Joseph said in a statement.
Oliva stepped down from his coaching basketball at Christ the King in January 2009. He last led his players to a CHSAA city championship in 2007. He joined Christ the King in 1978 after coaching at St. Theresa’s CYO in Richmond Hill for 18 years.
While the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse in Massachusetts is 27 years, prosecutors were able to pursue the charges in this case because any time a defendant spends outside of Massachusetts after the alleged crime is not counted against the statute of limitations, Conley said.
When Oliva returned to New York after the alleged abuse, the clock on the statute of limitations stopped, allowing prosecutors to pursue criminal charges in the 34-year-old case.
“The survivors of child sexual abuse can take a message from this case,” Conley said in a statement. “The message is that the abuse is not your fault. Unwarranted feelings of shame, fear and self-blame are weapons used by predators. This is a secret you don’t have to keep.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2010 Community News Group
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