Friday, November 18, 2011

Note To Syracuse: Stop Talking

BOEHEIM AND FINE
Just two weeks after the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, one of the newest ACC recruits, Syracuse, is staring down the barrel of a sexual abuse investigation.

The school placed long-time assistant coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave Thursday night “in light of the new allegations and the Syracuse City Police investigation” regarding the abuse of former ball boy Bobby Davis.

Davis, now 39, told ESPN Fine allegedly molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. 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. The fact that these two men are related and waited 19 years to come forward is likely to hamper their credibility.

Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan said the inquiry is in its early stages and the university said it had conducted its own investigation years ago and couldn’t find witnesses to corroborate the allegations.
ESPN said it first investigated the accusations in 2003, but decided not to run the story because there was no independent evidence to corroborate the allegations. Recently, a second man contacted ESPN, alleging that Fine also molested him. That person said he decided to come forward after seeing the Penn State coverage.

The Post-Standard said it, too, held off in 2003 for the same reason.

BOEHEIM
A statement by Kevin Quinn, the school’s senior vice president for public affairs, said Syracuse was contacted in 2005 by “an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men’s basketball coach.”

Quinn said the alleged activity took place in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired,” Quinn said.

Quinn 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” and that the coach also denied the allegations.

Boeheim released a statement saying: “This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded.

“I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would (have) been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.”

Davis claims Boeheim knew he was traveling on the road and sleeping in Fine’s room.

“Boeheim saw me with Bernie all the time in the hotel rooms, on road trips,” Davis said. “He’d come in, and see me laying in the bed, kind of glance at me like, `What are you doing here?’ But he wouldn’t say that. He’d just scowl…Boeheim’s not stupid.”

In a telephone interview Thursday night with the AP, Boeheim said: “This kid came forward and there was no one to corroborate his story. Not one. Not one. … They said I walked into Bernie’s room on the road and saw this. I have never walked into Bernie’s room on the road. This isn’t true. This just isn’t true.”

Former Syracuse center Rony Seikaly, who worked closely with Fine throughout his college career and exchanged text messages with him just Wednesday, told the AP he refuses to believe the allegations.
“Bernie would never do such a thing,” Seikaly said in a telephone interview in Miami. “I vouch for Bernie. There is no way something like this could ever happen in my eyes. No way.”

Like we said, stop talking. 

Fine may well be innocent, but finding “corroborating” witness to something as private as a sex crime is difficult until multiple victims come forward or someone walks in on the act as happened in the Sandusky case.  That said, it is becoming clear that the Unhappy Valley scandal may have emboldenedother victims… 

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