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DA says ex-Syracuse assistant left many victims
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Many of the key names in the sex abuse investigation of ex-Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine are well-known by now: Bobby Davis, Michael Lang, Zach Tomaselli.
On Wednesday, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said he believes Davis and Lang were abused by Fine. He said some records may call into question Tomaselli’s account that he was abused by Fine.
Davis went to the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper in 2002 and ESPN in 2003; neither media outlet could corroborate his claims. He went to the police, too, in 2002, and a detective told him the statute of limitations had expired. Three years later, he went to the university; Syracuse had its lawyers do an internal investigation and says it, too, couldn’t verify Davis‘ accusations.
Then, on Nov. 17, with the country still caught up in the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, where a former assistant football coach is accused of molesting 10 boys, Davis came forward on ESPN. Then Lang came forward. Ten days later, Tomaselli spoke out. That day, Nov. 27, ESPN aired a tape in which a woman it identified as Fine’s wife tells Davis she knew “everything” that was going on.
Fitzpatrick called the tape “devastating.”
Fitzpatrick expressed regret he couldn’t bring charges against Fine on the Davis and Lang accusations because the statute of limitations has expired. While he said he couldn’t say whether the coach would be found guilty of any charges, he said flatly that if the claims had been brought within the statute, and if law enforcement knew of the tape, it “would have resulted in the arrest of Bernie Fine for child molestation.”
Fine, who was fired Nov. 27, has denied the charges.
“Bobby, I’m sorry it took so long,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wish I had met you as a prosecutor in 2002. Even more importantly, I wish I had met you as a prosecutor back in the 1980s. We wouldn’t be here today.”
When he went public again last month, Davis was maligned by Boeheim as an opportunist and a liar, accusations the coach later apologized for, saying he was defending a friend out of loyalty without knowing all the information. Victim advocates called for him to quit or be fired. Fitzpatrick said Boeheim, one of the top college coaches in the nation whose team is currently ranked No. 3, was victimized by Fine, too.
“He let his friend go out and attack the victims, never once warning him they were telling the truth,” Fitzpatrick said. “Then stood by and did nothing while that friend was vilified.”
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