Former Christ the King coach Oliva cops to sex abuse

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BOSTON (AP) — A former legendary Christ the King HS basketball coach who won five city championships and trained a number of eventual college and NBA standouts pleaded guilty Monday in Boston to child sex abuse dating to the 1970s.

Robert Oliva, 66, was sentenced in Suffolk Superior Court to five years’ probation after pleading guilty to two counts of child rape and one count of disseminating pornography to a minor.

When asked by Suffolk Superior Judge Carol Ball if he understood the charges, the former Christ the King Catholic HS coach answered “Yes” and “Yes, I do.”

According to prosecutors, Oliva sexually abused James Carlino, then a 14-year-old boy, during a trip they took to Boston in 1976 for a Red Sox-Yankees game.

Carlino did not play for Oliva at Christ the King, but he and his family became close to Oliva after Carlino played in a Queens Catholic Youth Organization basketball league where Oliva was a coach.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but in this case the accuser has spoken publicly about his experience.

Prosecutors said they were able to charge Oliva in the 35-year-old case because the statute of limitations was frozen while Oliva lived out of state.

The maximum sentence for a conviction on child rape is life in prison.

The 49-year-old Carlino, who now lives in Florida, read a statement to the court, calling Oliva “a sick, disgusting human being” who used his power to treat him as a sex object.

“I was his sex toy and his sex trophy,” an emotional Carlino said in front of a number of his supporters who attended the sentencing. “That’s not how you treat someone you love. The love I thought you showed me was the love I had and still have for you. I hope you get help.”

The New York Post reported that Allen Watson, 40, a professional baseball player who has pitched for both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, told reporters outside the courtroom that he testified before the grand jury that he was also a victim of abuse at the hands of Oliva.

“Bob Oliva is a monster. I’m ashamed to be a CK alumnus, especially ashamed of the people who defended and protected this monster,” Watson said, according to the Post.

Watson told reporters that Oliva did not physically abuse him, but compelled him to have sex with prostitutes while he watched, showed him pornography and performed sex acts in front of him when he was between the ages of 14 and 16, the Post reported.

“I know there’s more victims out there,” Watson said.

Oliva won 549 games and five city championships in 27 seasons at Christ the King in Middle Village, where he coached several future NBA players Lamar Odon, Jayson Williams and Khalid Reeves.

He resigned in 2009.

Under the plea agreement, Oliva was given five years of probation and ordered not to coach again. Oliva is also not allowed unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old and must wear a GPS tracking devise in South Carolina, where he now lives, according to the agreement.

Oliva’s attorney, Michael Doolin, said Oliva served in the military for 25 years and had no criminal record prior to his sentencing.

Following the sentencing, Carlino’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, announced that he had filed a $20 million lawsuit in New York Supreme Court against Oliva and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn among others for the sexual abuse Carlino suffered. The lawsuit alleged that Oliva sexually abused Carlino more than 100 times in a number of different states and in Canada during trips.

Garabedian said that since filing the lawsuit, other alleged victims have come forward.

Doolin did not immediately return messages.

The Rev. Monsignor Kieran Harrington said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment.

TimesLedger Newspapers staff contributed to this story.

Updated 10:56 am, October 12, 2011
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