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Just 13 days after a teen and her mom complained about Oscar Olea to police in 2012, the Village administration proposed regulating coaches in island parks for the first time. 

At the time, the measure was presented to create order on a crowded Village Green. 

But the island’s top officials decided not to inform the Council about the Olea case and keep knowledge of the investigation within law enforcement, even as regulations were  being crafted. 

Charges were never filed then, but after more than a decade, two women have detailed alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the coach. A judge said last week Olea was grooming them. 

Olea has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

The park rules sought by then-Manager John C. Gilbert would later spell out insurance coverage and mandatory background checks, and would give the Parks Director, Todd Hofferberth, final say in picking a maximum of 12 vendors.

The provisions stated the director could terminate any vendor whenever it was in the best interest of the Village. 

But senior Village officials knew something that a standard background check or permit application might not reveal. Olea had been fired, at the Village’s request, months earlier, by a vendor at the Community Center. 

Indeed, the information remained so closely held that two sitting council members were shocked when they heard the accusations because their own children had been in classes taught by Olea as recently as last fall. 

Four months before the police complaint from the mom, a Village employee had witnessed Olea handle a student inappropriately at the Community Center during a class. Olea’s employer at the time, American Gymsters, promptly fired him.  

Assistant Parks Director Ana J. Colls, in a Nov. 21, 2011 email to American Gymsters thanked the company for terminating Olea. “It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s for the best,” she wrote. 

Olea came to the Village offices to speak to Colls, upset about his termination, according to the email. “I explained to him our position and wished him the best, ” Colls wrote.

Gilbert, who had just settled into the manager’s job from his prior post as fire chief, said he’d been assured by Hofferberth and then Police Chief Charles Press that the situation had been “taken care of” after the 2011 email from Colls. 

Gilbert said that he discussed with Press whether the Council should be informed – but made the decision not to. Instead, he decided to leave it as a law enforcement matter, and later met with Hofferberth, but could not offer additional details. 

“Chuck felt he had done everything he possibly could,” Gilbert recalled.

Defendant Oscar Olea, charged with multiple counts of sexual battery against two former gymnastics students, reacts during a pre-trial detention hearing in Miami on March 7, 2024. Olea has pleaded not guilty to all charges. (Miami Herald vial pool/Pedro Portal)

Gilbert, who is retired, volunteered that he suffers from memory problems but insisted he recalled the conversation with the chief. Press declined to comment.

Hofferberth said he did not recall the follow-up meeting as Gilbert described it, but his office was responsible for drafting the vendor rules. He has not returned emails seeking to clarify the timeline.  

Gilbert’s then chief of staff, Jennifer Medina, earlier said the Olea investigation was not discussed in her presence nor did she see any reports during that period. Medina said she was shocked when the allegations became public.  

Yet, Olea got the Village Green permit in April 2013, a year after the police complaint had been made and despite rules that gave Hofferberth discretion. A permit can be revoked “immediately” if the director “believes it is in the best interest of the Village to do so.”

Village Manager Steve Williamson, in an interview, framed the decision to issue the permit as being about fairness and public access, declining to address criticism that the Village should have done more.

“We can put in policies and procedures we want, but we also have to make sure we follow people’s civil liberties, too, right?” Williamson said.

“It went through a process. He (Olea) was outside the Community Center in plain sight, operating under a permit, under license,” Williamson continued. “And, as we’ve set the rules for everybody else, he was allowed to go forward.”

But details of any internal deliberations have not been made public.

A public records request filed last month by the Independent seeking all documentation involving the permit – including emails – has been largely unfulfilled. 

“He went through a background check and nothing came forward,” Williamson said. “Then over a period of time, he went again, updated his permit and went through another background check. Nothing came forward.” 

Olea requested the permit in the name of his company, FlipOut Workout. Williamson said. Olea taught on the Village Green starting in 2013 through 2019, he said. Olea would eventually establish a studio on the island. 

Andrea Agha, who preceded Williamson as manager between 2018 and 2021, said she “hadn’t heard of any abuses,” but also said she knew that participant safety was front of mind for staff. She said no one raised concerns about Olea with her. 

Olea is charged with multiple counts of sexual battery against two minors  12 years of age or older by a custodian. In often graphic and emotional statements played in Court last week, the women told Key Biscayne detectives they were groomed by Olea and enticed into having sex with him – sometimes against their will – in 2011 and 2012. 

After hearing the recordings, Circuit Court Judge Alberto Milian found Olea was a danger to the community and denied bond. 

Williamson has said the Village is reviewing vetting procedures, but for now, he says his focus is supporting police. “My concern isn’t looking backwards,” he said Saturday. “What’s most important is that the victims get their day in court.” 

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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.


Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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