Hearing shifts to fired Syracuse coach’s wife

NEW YORK (AP) - Salacious claims about the wife of an assistant Syracuse University basketball coach who was fired after claims that he molested boys are relevant in the slander lawsuit two of the men brought against the team’s head coach, Jim Boeheim, a lawyer for the men argued in court Friday.

The hearing in Manhattan was about whether two former ball boys who accuse Boeheim of defamation can get certain information at this point. Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Anil C. Singh said he will decide later Friday.

The men, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, also claim Fine’s wife, Laurie, had consensual sex with basketball players. A lawyer for the men, Marianne Wang, argued that points to an atmosphere of “dysfunctional” sexual relationships surrounding the Fines and that Boeheim knew or should have known what was going on around the program he has run for 36 seasons.

Laurie Fine’s lawyer has called the allegations “disgusting.” Bernie Fine has denied wrongdoing and hasn’t been charged. The U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating the claims of a third man, 23-year-old Zachary Tomaselli. The claims by Davis and Lang happened too long ago be investigated because the statute of limitations has expired.

The former ball boys are seeking information including addresses for all Syracuse basketball team members from 1992 to 1997, the names of anyone who may have had a sexual relationship with either Bernie or Laurie Fine and information on what the university or Boeheim knew about her alleged affairs with players and ball boys, among other information.

Neither Fine is a defendant in the lawsuit, which maintains that Boeheim defamed Davis and Lang by saying they were out for money after their abuse allegations surfaced.

“What is the relationship between the alleged conduct of Mrs. Fine and basketball players and the statements made by Boeheim?” Judge Singh asked.

“This was an element of the severe dysfunctional relationship that, apparently, Laurie and Bernie Fine had with one another” and others, said Wang said. “It goes directly to Boeheim’s knowledge. When he made the statements that our clients are liars and money-grubbers, effectively, what did he know?”

Lawyers for the university didn’t address the allegations about Laurie Fine, focusing instead on the request for information, legally known as discovery. The request is part of a broader clash over the university’s and Boeheim’s request to move the case to Syracuse.

“I don’t see a legitimate need, based on the (legal arguments) and the status today, to give them any discovery,” said Helen Cantwell, a lawyer for the university.

Boeheim’s lawyers also were there but didn’t speak.

The lawyers declined to comment outside court.

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