- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2011

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine says allegations that he molested two former ball boys for years are “patently false.”

The school placed Fine on administrative leave Thursday “in light of the new allegations” and an investigation by the Syracuse City Police.

In a statement released by one of his attorneys Friday, Fine said the allegations have been thoroughly investigated multiple times and that he has fully cooperated with past inquiries.

“Sadly, we live in an allegation-based society and an internet age where in a matter of minutes one’s lifelong reputation can be severely damaged. I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation. I hope the latest review of these allegations will be conducted expeditiously.


“Finally, I appreciate (Chancellor Nancy Cantor‘s) statement that I should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend myself against these accusations. I fully intend to do so. There should never be a rush to judgment when someone’s personal integrity and career are on the line.”

Cantor vowed Friday that the school will not turn a blind eye to child molesting allegations that resurfaced just two weeks after the Penn State scandal.

ESPN reported the accusations were made by two former ball boys.

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine allegedly 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 the alleged 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 molested him starting while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

Fine is in his 35th season as a Syracuse assistant. No one answered the door at his home Friday.

“We hold everyone in our community to high standards and we don’t tolerate illegal, abusive or unethical behavior — no matter who you are,” Cantor said in an email Friday morning to students, faculty and staff.

“The dilemma in any situation like this, of course, is that — without corroborating facts, witnesses or confessions — one must avoid an unfair rush to judgment. We have all seen terrible injustices done to the innocent accused of heinous crimes. And we’ve all seen situations where the guilty avoid justice. “

Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan says Syracuse University did not contact police in 2005 when the school was informed of allegations of “inappropriate contact” by an associate men’s basketball coach.

In an email Friday morning to students, faculty and staff, Cantor repeated that the school was contacted in 2005 by “an adult male who asserted that he had reported allegations in 2005 of abuse in the 1980’s and 1990’s to the police” and that the accuser told the school police had declined to pursue it because the statute of limitations had expired.

She said the school conducted its own four-month investigation at that time, including interviews with people the accuser said would support his allegations, but that all of them “denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct” by the associate coach.

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