(Updated 8:00 pm, 11/ 27 – Bernie Fine Fired) In mid-November, right after news about the Penn State sex scandal broke, another university sex scandal was unfolding. On November 17, Syracuse University (SU) officials were contacted by an ESPN television reporter regarding allegations dating back to the 1980s and 1990s that Associate Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bernie Fine had engaged in inappropriate behavior with a minor, now 39. Allegations came in from two former Syracuse ball boys regarding Fine’s sexual misconduct. Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave pending a new investigation by the Syracuse Police Department; and he has vehemently denied the allegations against him. Now a third accuser has come forward in the investigation of child molestation allegations against Fine.
According to the Huffington Post, Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, said today that he told police that Bernie Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. He said Fine touched him “multiple” times in that one incident.
Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he signed an affidavit accusing Fine following a meeting with Syracuse police last week in Albany.
Syracuse police declined comment. Tomaselli’s father, meanwhile, maintains his son is lying.
Of the two original and former ball boys to accuse Fine, Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis told ESPN that the abuse occurred at Fine’s home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.
Davis’ stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.
On Friday, federal authorities carried out a search at Fine’s suburban Syracuse home but declined to comment on what they were looking for.
For additional information, check out the attached OTL video covering Bernie’s wife Laurie (warning: video contains graphic sexual content). The audio recording of the video is a tape recorded by Bobby Davis of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Laurie Fine.
(8pm, 11/27 update): CNN just reported that SU has fired Bernie Fine. And according to NYDailynews.com:
A tape-recorded phone call in which Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine’s wife appears to bolster the allegations of child sex abuse against her husband added another shock wave to the case Sunday, leading to the firing of Fine Sunday night and eliciting comparisons to the coverup of child sex abuse allegations at Penn State.
According to a statement released Sunday night, Kevin Quinn, the school’s senior vice president for public affairs, says Fine has been “terminated, effective immediately.”
- See the 11/28/2011 follow-up story: Bernie Fine fired over secret sex abuse tape: SU Chancellor releases statement
(cover image: Assistant coach Bernie Fine of the Syracuse Orange looks on from the sidelines during their game against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York City.
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(sources: cnn, nydailynews.com, huffington post, SU)