Former CASA volunteer suspected of child sexual abuse
A former Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer has been accused of sexually abusing children he was tasked to help in the juvenile court system.
Gabriel Lievano, 80, is being sought for arrest after police took reports that he inappropriately touched four children. An Oklahoma County district judge issued his arrest warrant Friday.
Detectives began investigating Lievano in 2016 when two of his former clients at CASA of Oklahoma County said he sexually abused them while he was their court advocate. Another child made a similar disclosure this year that she and her sister endured illicit touching from Lievano, according to the arrest warrant.
Lievano met all four alleged victims through CASA, which appoints volunteers to meet with children and advocate for their needs in court. Deprived and delinquent children in the juvenile court system are connected with CASA volunteers on a request basis.
Executive Director Jennie Hill said in a statement that CASA dismissed Lievano three days after the police investigation began in 2016, and he has never been reinstated. Police notified the organization when detectives opened a second investigation in February.
“CASA has cooperated with law enforcement throughout the course of this investigation,” Hill said. “It has always been our organization’s policy for all volunteers and employees to undergo a rigorous background check, and we will be fully reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to protect children.”
CASA worked with a third-party risk management auditing group last year to refine its screening and recruitment process for volunteers, Hill said. The organization declined to comment on specific details of the current investigation.
In 2016, a brother and sister disclosed to their adopted mother that Lievano inappropriately touched them while he was their CASA advocate, according to the arrest warrant. The boy, then 12, said the touching began when he was about 6.
Lievano was assigned to the siblings’ case from January 2009 to July 2014, though he didn’t see them from December 2012 through January 2014, police said.
The boy’s older sister said Lievano touched her breasts multiple times, starting when she was 8, according to the warrant. The siblings said they were living with their biological parents when the abuse occurred, and Lievano would buy them toys and food.
Capt. Bo Matthews said detectives brought the case to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, but prosecutors declined to file charges. However, the case was revived in February when a new report surfaced from a young girl who said Lievano sexually abused her and her older sister.
Bolstered by the recent findings, detectives have requested Lievano be charged with committing lewd acts on all four children, Matthews said.
Lievano was assigned as the girls’ advocate from 2009 to 2011 and remained close with their family, police said. He reportedly rented their family a house, and he watched the girls before and after school while their father worked.
The younger sister, now about 10, said in a forensic interview that Lievano would touch her and her sister illicitly while their father was working, police reported.
While detectives investigated the case, Lievano contacted the girls’ parents to offer $2,500 for a “private resolution,” according to the warrant.
“This is an alternative solution to give more time to evaluate and see what else can be done with the situation,” he reportedly wrote in a text message to the parents. “I have not discussed this with anyone because it is a situation that I never thought could happen, (I) always tried to help them all those years with respect and dignity.”
Police have identified the suspect as a flight risk to leave the country, as he told the girls’ parents he planned to move in with his daughter in Colombia.
Lievano did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.