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Accuser’s lawyer rips SU report on sex abuse probe

- Associated Press - Monday, July 9, 2012

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - The lawyer for a man who accused Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse said Monday that a report into the university's investigation of the claim is "a complete whitewash."

Among other things, Bobby Davis' lawyer, Gloria Allred, said the report issued last week by a special committee failed to criticize that 2005 university probe as biased because it was conducted by the university's longtime law firm.

Allred also said the conclusion that there was no attempt to cover up the allegations doesn't "pass the laugh test."

Davis, now 41, claims Fine molested him beginning when he was around 12 years old. He took the allegations to the university in 2005, and an investigation by the school's law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, found the claims couldn't be substantiated. Allred said that determination missed the point.

"The issue should not have been whether or not the molestations were substantiated but rather whether or not they occurred," she said. "Few cases of childhood sexual abuse can be `substantiated' because by their very nature these events occur in private under circumstances where there cannot be substantiation, often because the victims are afraid or ashamed to speak out until years after the fact."

Fine was fired in November after the allegations were made public. The allegations by Davis and his stepbrother, Michael Lang, happened too long ago to be investigated by law enforcement, but the claims of a third man are being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Fine has not been charged and denies the accusations.

A special committee of the university's board of trustees hired lawyers from the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to assess how the 2005 claims were investigated. In that report, the lawyers found:

_ The investigation didn't talk to enough witnesses or failed to interview witnesses thoroughly.

_ No sexual abuse expert was called in to help.

_ Lawyers didn't talk to two people who Davis said might have been potential abuse victims.

Still, Allred blasted the conclusion that the 2005 study was undertaken in good faith.

"The report by the so-called Special Committee of the Board of Trustees suffers from the same deficiencies that corrupted the University's 2005 so-called investigation of Bobby Davis' allegations: a complete lack of transparency or fully critical analysis," Allred said.

There was no immediate response from the university or the law firm that prepared the report.

Among other things, Allred said:

_ The report failed to fault the university staff who were interviewed in 2005 but didn't report the allegations to the chancellor or the board of trustees.

_ The report failed to ask why Laurie Fine, Bernie Fine's wife, was never questioned in 2005 after Davis told the initial investigators she had sex with players and him.

_ Witnesses were interviewed in the presence of the university's litigation lawyers at DeBevoise & Plimpton, the same firm that is defending Davis' defamation suit against Syracuse and head coach Jim Boeheim.

_ The report should have been suspicious of Bond, Schoneck & King allowing Fine to change his witness statement in 2005. Notes from the interview show that Davis may have stayed alone in Fine's hotel room occasionally, but that information was not included in the final 2005 report.

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