In a stunning turn of events, one of the most decorated prep hoops coaches in New York City history pleaded guilty on Monday to sexual abuse of a minor in Massachusetts, admitting that he molested a 14-year-old when his team was on a trip to Boston in 1976.
According to the New York Daily News and other sources, longtime Christ the King (N.Y.) Regional High boys basketball coach Bob Oliva pleaded guilty to two downgraded charges of rape of a child, stemming from his molestation of Jimmy Carlino when he was 14 years old. Carlino has alleged that Oliva molested him for years, beginning when he was an 11-year-old in New York.
"I now realize I lost my childhood to Bob Oliva," Carlino said in a court statement. "You are a sick, disgusting person and a poor excuse for a human being."
While Oliva's guilty plea was a surprising turn because of his long held assertion that the claims against him were only attempts to extort money, others criticized the trial's final conclusion because it will allow Oliva to avoid any jail time. The former coach -- who resigned in 2009 because of heart problems he attributed to the sex abuse cases against him -- will have to register as a sex offender, wear a GPS tracking device and will be outlawed from having any unsupervised contact with minors in any circumstances.
"I'm very disappointed," said Sam Albano, a sports TV producer and former Oliva friend who testified before the grand jury that indicted Oliva. "This predator will keep his act on the streets where he will always be a threat to society."
In a letter to Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball, Albano urged Ball to reject the deal, saying Oliva has repeatedly claimed the sex abuse allegations were an attempt by Carlino and others to shake him down and ruin his reputation.
"Oliva is pleading guilty for the convenience of not being incarcerated and nothing more, particularly since he faces two life sentences for his predatory acts on the victim," Albano wrote.
The Boston ruling may be just the start of Oliva's legal problems, as well. Shortly after Monday's hearing, Carlino's lawyer announced a $20 million lawsuit against Oliva, Christ the King, the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Catholic Youth Organization and other Catholic-based defendants in New York Supreme Court.
Whether or not that case is successful, the legacy of a once-proud molder of prep basketball talent has certainly been permanently tainted. While Oliva may have previously been best known for helping eventual NBA stars like Lamar Odom and Jayson Williams (among others) reach their peak, he'll now be left with the scarlet letter of sexual abuse forever more.
"Mr. Oliva may be in the Hall of Fame at Christ the King, but he is in the Hall of Shame now," Carlino's lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said in a post-trial statement.