Syracuse University fires basketball coach Bernie Fine

By ANDREW DONOVAN

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WKTV) - Amidst allegations of sexual abuse of young boys, Syracuse University has fired associate basketball coach Bernie Fine.

Kevin Quinn, SU Senior VP of Public Affairs, released a statement Sunday night saying: “At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately.”

Head coach Jim Boeheim released the following statement Sunday night: "The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling.  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."

"Frankly, the events of the past week have shaken us all," Chancellor Cantor said in an e-mail. "We need to learn all we can from this terrible lesson," Cantor added, "We do not tolerate abuse. If anything good comes out of this tragedy, it will be that this basic principle is reinforced.

The weekend saw two new developments in the sexual abuse accusations against Fine.

ESPN reported that Fine's wife, Laurie, was worried that her husband sexually molested a team ball boy, according to phone conversations recorded by the alleged victim, Bobby Davis.

"I know everything that went on, you know," Laurie Fine said on the phone call, ESPN reported. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues."

Laurie Fine also said, "Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind," ESPN reported.

Davis gave ESPN the recording, which the network said was legally made October 8, 2002.

Another major development was that a third accuser came forward who claims Bernie Fine also molested him in 2002. 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Maine, said that Fine touched him multiple times in a Pittsburgh hotel room.

The Post-Standard in Syracuse first reported his accusations earlier Sunday.

Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he signed an affidavit accusing Fine following a meeting with Syracuse police Wednesday in Albany.

In an interesting twist of the third accusation, the alleged victim's father says that his son is lying. The two have been estranged for many years.

Authorities involved in a sexual-abuse investigation of Fine carried out a search at his home Friday but declined to comment on what they were looking for.

New York State Police spokesman Jack Keller said troopers were called to assist the U.S. attorney's office at the search. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Pericak said he "can't confirm or deny" an investigation.

"We don't comment on whether or not search warrants are being executed — we only comment at the time of public events," Pericak said. "I'm not saying there was or wasn't one here. But when you get a search warrant that's sealed, it remains sealed until a court unseals it."

The Post-Standard newspaper reported that four state troopers stood at the end of the driveway at Fine's home in suburban DeWitt on Friday afternoon. It said at least six police vehicles were parked on the street and officers were looking through a trash can.

Two people originally accused Fine of molesting them. One of the alleged victims, 39-year old Bobby Davis, told ESPN that he was molested for a period of 12 years starting in 1983 and that it continued until he was 27 years old.

Fine is not currently facing any formal chargers from authorities.

Fine's boss, head coach Jim Boeheim, stood by his long-time associate coach when the allegations first came out. He said, "I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support." 

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