Monday, November 28, 2011

Orange Crushed: Fine Fired By Syracuse

FINE
Things keep getting uglier and more complicated at Syracuse.  On Sunday, Bernie Fine was fired after a third man accused the long-time assistant coach of molesting him nine years ago.

The 65-year-old Fine was in his 36th season at his alma mater. He had the longest active streak of consecutive seasons at one school among assistant coaches in Division I.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, said Sunday that he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. He said Fine touched him "multiple" times in that one incident.
He was the third accuser to come forward in the investigation of child molestation allegations against Fine.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim went into full-retreat and c.y.a. mode saying he supported the university's decision to fire his longtime assistant and expressed regret for his initial statements that might have been "insensitive to victims of abuse."

BOEHEIM
"The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling," Boeheim said in a statement released by the school. "I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

In an interview the day the reports of Fine’s abuse first aired with the Post-Standard, Boeheim attacked Davis' reasons for going public with his accusations.

"The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money," Boeheim said. "He's tried before. And now he's trying again. If he gets this, he's going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I'd say about $50 million. That's what this is about. Money."

Unlike the Penn State case, things aren’t as simple as they seem.  The original accuser, Bobby Davis, has revealed that he had a sexual relationship with Fine’s wife Laurie and that she knew about the abuse.

Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

POLICE OUTSIDE FINE'S HOUSE (Post-Standard Photo)
The third accuser Tomaselli faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy and Tomaselli's father maintains his son is lying.

Tomaselli said the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky prompted him to come forward.  He told the Post-Standard he met Fine after he and his father, Fred, attended a Syracuse autograph session on campus in late 2001 and that Fine later called Tomaselli's parents to arrange for Tomaselli to go to Pittsburgh with the athletic department staff on a chartered bus, spend the night in Fine's hotel room and attend the team's game on Jan. 22, 2002.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard that he had dinner with the team, then returned to the hotel room where he accused Fine of putting porn on the TV and fondling him in bed.

However, during a phone interview with the AP, Fred Tomaselli said: "I'm 100 percent sure that Bernie Fine was never in contact with Zach. He never went to Pittsburgh to a game, never been to that arena."

TOMASELLI
"I brought him to a couple of games in Syracuse. We always sat in the nosebleed section and left after the game. He never stayed for any overnighters and never even got within shouting distance of Bernie."

The Post-Standard also reported that Zach Tomaselli was invited by Fine to a party at his home after the Syracuse-Pitt game on Feb. 1, 2003 -- a game where Zach Tomaselli said Fine arranged seats for him and his father several rows behind the bench.

Tomaselli told the newspaper his father, who was unable to attend the party, allowed him to go to Fine's house and stay the night...

Good luck, sorting all that out.

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