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Village Manager Steve Williamson on Friday gave a full-throated endorsement of Parks Director Todd Hofferberth, who has come under fire for issuing a permit to gymnastics coach Oscar Olea to teach on the Village Green.

Police arrested Olea in February on charges of sexual battery involving two of his students after two women went to police with allegations after more than a decade of silence. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail after a judge denied him bond, finding him a danger to the community.

“Todd has served this Village for 25 years. He puts his heart into this Village. He is an amazing resource, not just for my staff but for the residents. I mean just look at that Community Center,” Williamson said. 

Williamson also sent an email to residents on Thursday on Village Connect supporting police and staff after the publishing of Miami Herald article with the sensational headline, “‘Shame on them’: How police fumbled the case of gymnastics coach accused of sex abuse.”

Williamson’s email blast also follows a meeting with Louisa Conway,  former Council candidate earlier this month. “She mentioned concerns about certain employees and whether they should continue to work here,” Williamson said.

He would not say which employees she asked to be fired and Conway, a frequent critic of local government,  did not return a text message for comment. 

She has criticized the police for its handling of the Olea investigation in 2012 and now. A detective in the current case is under an internal investigation after he was caught on tape denigrating the mother of an alleged victim.

Conway seized upon the Olea investigation to start an online petition drive that led to the Village holding a community meeting on child safety. 

Olea had been fired from American Gymnsters at the time when a Parks Department employee complained about how he inappropriately touched a student during a class at the Community Center.

However, the teens decided not to press charges and Olea passed the background check to obtain a permit for teaching on the Village Green. Hofferberth’s department was in charge of issuing the permits. 

The Independent reported last month that the permit system — which involved a background check — was sought by then Village Manager John Gilbert and approved by Council after reports to police that Olea was having sex with his underage students. Gilbert said he decided not to inform the Village Council at the time after a meeting with Chief Charles Press.  

Of the decision to issue the permit, Williamson said: “We want good vendors to provide good services to our Village and we have to have a process to do and the process has to be the same for everybody,” Williamson said Friday. 

The ordinance passed by the Council in 2012 gives the administration broad discretion on which coaches can operate a business. In his email to residents on Thursday, Williamson said Olea was a “dangerous and predatory man.”

Williamson on Friday said he had not spoken to former Chief Press about the Olea investigation in 2012 and had no plans to do so.  “It does no good to speculate who knew what at what time and you know, who emphasized what,” Williamson said. “I’m not gonna go back there.”

Police started investigating Olea again in October when accusations first surfaced involving a four- and 7-year-old — that he did nothing wrong while coaching at his now-closed FlipOut Workout.

The State Attorney in a closeout letter declined to file charges, citing conflicting testimony from the victims and their families.

Social media posts about those Olea allegations, however, inspired two women – who as girls had first gone to the police in 2012 –  to come forward and give harrowing statements about how Olea lured them into sexual relationships and allegedly raped them.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted the Miami Herald’s headline.

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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.

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.