Key Biscayne Mayor Joe Rasco said he added to the agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting a discussion on the demand by a growing number of residents for a town hall on how the Village police investigate sex abuse allegations.
“People will be able to voice their concerns,” Rasco said.
The Change.org petition circulated on Nextdoor and WhatsApp social media platforms following the Miami Herald’s investigation into gymnastic coach Oscar Olea. Supporters of the petition are also upset that Key Biscayne Police didn’t alert them to the federal arrest of island attorney William McCaughan Jr. on pornography charges.
Police investigated Olea last year for allegedly inappropriate behavior with two students, ages 4 and 7, at his now shuttered Flipout Workout. Two women now have come forward with allegations they were raped by Olea when they were teenagers in 2011 and 2012.
Key Biscayne Police, the Miami-Dade Police’s Special Victim Unit and the State Attorney’s Office found not enough evidence to bring charges against Olea regarding the allegations in 2023 because of conflicting statements.
The women who came forward last week chose not to press charges in 2011 and 2012 and Olea went on to teach classes at the Community Center and the Village Green.
Olea has denied any wrongdoing.
The Jan. 29 petition was started by Louisa Conway, a former Council candidate who often takes to social media to criticize the current Council and deride staff. The petition only had 590 signatures as late Sunday on an island with a population of 15,000.
Former Council Member Luis de la Cruz said he supports a public forum of some type but said the petition was designed to embarrass Village police and officials “as if they were holding something back.”
The petition makes demands, such as how many cases of child porn and sex crimes against minors occur in Key Biscayne and how the police handle these investigations. It also asks about background checks for Village employees and vendors.
Police Chief Frank Sousa took to the Village’s Instagram account on Jan. 30 to try to explain how police can only investigate a crime if the victim comes forward, but did not address the investigations or provide any specifics, He has also met personally with supporters of the petition.
Rasco, who is running for reelection, has said he supports Sousa and how the department handled the investigations into Olea last year. Sousa most likely won’t be at Tuesday’s meeting because of a recent illness, Rasco said. Late Monday, Rasco said the chief’s condition had improved and that Sousa would update the Council.”
Village Manager Steve Williamson said he thinks a town hall could be a good idea but that it must have proper rules of engagement. “I just don’t want it to be a gotcha-situation,” he said.
“I’d probably ask the County to come in, maybe even ask the State Attorney’s Office.”
Big contracts: Maintenance, Communications, Ambulances
The Council is slated to vote on a $120,000 communications contract for the “Big Dig” infrastructure project and a long-delayed $1.5 million, five-year facilities maintenance contract.
On the latter, the Village split the custodial and maintenance contracts after it could not agree on terms with a single provider for those services. After one bidder withdrew, UG2 LLC was picked for maintenance.
But in December, several council members asked questions about costs and how the firm would assess preventive maintenance and then use a computerized system to track repairs. The matter has been pending since last summer.
As for the “Big Dig,” the Village has chosen HML Public Outreach for communications and community engagement. However, the contract could get opposition from Council Member Ed London, who feels the Village contracts out jobs that could be handled in-house without the expenditure.
Speaking of London, he mightily criticized last year the plan to purchase two new ambulances for $586,000. The capital expenditure will also be in front of the Council Tuesday.
This story has been updated