By Conor Greene
It has been an up and down week for the Christ the King High School basketball program, as former longtime head coach Bob Oliva was indicted in Massachusetts on sex abuse charges, four days before both the boys and girls programs captured a state title.
Authorities in Suffolk County announced last Thursday that Oliva, 65, has been accused in a three-count indictment of molesting a young player and showing him pornography during a trip to Boston in 1976. Oliva, who resigned last year after 27 years at the helm of the school’s basketball program, is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on April 12. If convicted, Oliva could spend the rest of his life in prison.
The Suffolk County District Attorney didn’t identify the alleged victim, but in 2008 Oliva notified the Middle Village school’s board of directors that he had been accused of abusing longtime family friend Jimmy Carlino. In May 2008, a Florida attorney sent Oliva a letter informing him that Carlino would drop the matter in exchange for a $750,000 payment and Oliva’s resignation by the end of that school year.
At the time, Oliva denied the charges before stepping down in January 2009 as head coach, citing heart problems caused by the stress of the allegations. He compiled a record of 549-181 and won four city championships while coaching several future NBA stars including Lamar Odom and Jayson Williams.
While the statute of limitations has expired in New York for any alleged incidents that took place between Oliva and Carlino in the 1970s, the Suffolk County DA is able to pursue the charges because time a suspect spends outside of Massachusetts is not counted against the statue of limitations. Prosecutors allege that the abuse took place at the Boston Sheraton during a trip Oliva and Carlino, then 14, took to see a Yankee-Red Sox doubleheader at Fenway Park.
“Cases of child sexual abuse are some of the most painful we see as prosecutors,” said Suffolk County DA Daniel F. Conley 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.”
Suffolk prosecutors say the victim disclosed the abuse to Boston police last year. An extensive grand jury investigation was then launched, with “numerous witnesses” called to testify. According to the Daily News, Carlino and others connected to Christ the King, including former major league baseball pitcher Allen Watson, testified before the grand jury in February. Two other men told that newspaper they testified before the panel and had also been abused by Oliva. Additional charges could be levied against Oliva as a result.
Oliva met Carlino, who attended Archbishop Malloy High School, when the coach owned an Ozone Park bar called the Short Porch, where the youngster’s father bartended.
In a bright spot for the school’s basketball program, the Royal’s defeated Boys & Girls, 52-49 in the state Federation Class AA game on Sunday in Glen Falls. It was the first championship for the boy’s program since Oliva led the 1989 team to the title. In addition, the school became the first in tournament history to win both the boys’ and girls’ titles, after the lady Royals defeated Sachem East earlier Sunday.