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Key Biscayne Mayor Joe Rasco expressed confidence in Police Chief Frank Sousa on Tuesday after the island was roiled by three different sex investigations that critics said raised questions about law enforcement transparency.

“We have tremendous confidence in Chief Sousa and in our department,” Rasco said. 

The mayor’s statement came after Sousa himself posted a three-minute video on the Village’s Instagram account, insisting the community was safe. But he did not directly address any of the investigations. 

The cases involve a federal child porn prosecution of a former Key Biscayne attorney, and allegations last year against a local gymnastics coach that officials have said – so far – do not meet the standard for criminal prosecution. 

Police reported they had reviewed security footage and found no evidence of inappropriate contact. 

Yet within hours of Sousa’s post, the Miami Herald reported two adult women had come forward with accusations they were sexually abused by the coach when they were students more than a decade ago. The story followed one Friday detailing the investigations into gymnastic teacher Oscar Olea – who has not been charged. 

Olea denies any wrongdoing. His attorney, Beatriz Llorente, did not respond to questions Tuesday. She told the Herald the fact her client was investigated and not charged speaks to his innocence. 

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Sousa’s department started getting criticism from a handful of residents on WhatsApp and Nextdoor after news broke on New Year’s Eve that former Key Biscayne attorney William McCaughan Jr. had been charged with receipt of child pornography in July.

Local authorities said they were aware of the FBI investigation – but had no role in it. McCaughan Jr.’s trial is set for next month. 

In the most recent cases, Key Biscayne police in September investigated allegations involving two students at FlipOut Workout before handing it over to Miami-Dade Police Department’s Special Victim Unit. That unit determined the case did not meet its criteria to pursue, according to Key Biscayne’s 44-page investigatory report.

The State Attorney also reviewed the case and chose not to file charges, the report stated. 

Key Biscayne Police Chief Frank Sousa took to Instagram after his department received criticism following three sex cases that became public this month. (KBI Photo)

“We work off of the facts. There were conflicting statements. There wasn’t corroborating evidence and the decision was made that it’s not going to meet the likelihood of prosecution,” Sousa told the Independent.

The recent investigation started in late September when a father came to the Police Department with his 7-year-old daughter and filed a complaint, according to a police report.

The alleged victim told investigators Olea touched her butt and chest while she was performing a gymnastic move at FlipOut. She also said he once whispered to her in Spanish, “Look at that big ass, I’m hungry,” the report stated.

Another parent came to police about Olea allegedly picking up a 4-year-old gymnastics student by her ankles and licking her buttocks, the report said.

Olea told police he never maliciously touched a student and that would only touch them to straighten their posture. He said he sometimes tickled his students or had them sit on his lap to gain their trust, according to the report.

“I do it because I’m animated and at the same time, I do it because it builds a good rapport or vibe with the parents and the kids,” he told police Sept. 28, 2023.

In addition to the review of security camera footage provided by Olea through his attorney, the KBPD report noted that a female coach at FlipOut said she never saw Olea act inappropriately with any student.

During investigation about the most recent complaints, Key Biscayne police found Olea had been listed in two prior reports with the department.

Key Biscayne Mayor Joe Rasco presides at a Village Council meeting Aug. 29, 2023. Rasco said the community was never in danger from law enforcement not publicizing a local attorney arrested on child pornography charges. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

One 2011 report described a  “suspicious incident involving rape allegations.” Another in 2012 involved a “relationship with a minor.” Then-Chief Charles Press declined to comment about the department’s investigation at the time.

When asked about the two women who told the Herald they had spoken to police, Sousa stopped short of confirming the newspaper’s account.  “If someone comes forward, we will listen, we will take their statement. And if we have something that can lead us to reopen an investigation, we’ll do it at that point.”

Olea has conducted classes at the Community Center as a vendor, but it was unclear what procedures were in place to review third-party athletic service contracts that are used by many differing fitness providers. 

Rasco – who is running for reelection – was asked by the Independent whether vetting vendors who provide child services at the community center needed to be reviewed. 

“I’m pretty confident in our procedures and policies that are in place, but of course I’m fine in taking another look at them if necessary,” he said.

A handful of residents criticized the department on WhatsApp and Nextdoor apps dedicated to the island after the McCaughan arrest became public, saying they should have been alerted.

After the Herald’s investigation into Olea, former Council candidate Louisa Conway started a petition on Change.org calling for the Village to hold a town hall on “Why the public was kept in the dark regarding these incidents?”

By late Tuesday night, the petition had 230 signatures on an island with a population of 15,000. Conway did not return a phone call or text message seeking comment.

“We understand the community’s desire to know information as incidents are reported,” Sousa said in the video statement. “I want you to know that to protect the victims, the process and be transparent, we must wait for an investigation to be completed.”

Former Council Member Luis de la Cruz pushed back on the petition, saying it was done as part of an overall agenda to undermine the current administration.

“It’s almost like the Village is withholding information and residents are trying to pry it out of them,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the case.”

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.