Syracuse fires Fine as 3rd accuser, tape surface

In this Nov. 14, 2011, photo, Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine watches a college basketball game against Manhattan in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Syracuse, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli, File)

In this Nov. 14, 2011, photo, Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine watches a college basketball game against Manhattan in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Syracuse, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli, File)

SYRACUSE, New York (CBS/AP) -- Syracuse University has fired an assistant basketball coach thirty-six years after he was hired amid an investigation into child molestation allegations against him.

Bernie Fine was fired Sunday night after a third man accused him of molesting him. A taped phone call, purportedly between Fine's wife and one of his alleged victims, was aired Sunday and also appeared damaging to Fine.

The scandal at Syracuse, a college basketball powerhouse, comes only weeks after child sexual abuse allegations against an assistant coach ended the legendary career of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

Fine, who turns 66 in December, held the longest active streak of consecutive seasons at one school among assistant basketball coaches at the top level of the sport. He has denied the allegations.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Maine, said Sunday that he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. The third accuser to come forward, Tomaselli said Fine touched him "multiple" times in that one incident. Tomaselli said the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky prompted him to come forward. Sandusky is accused in a grand jury indictment of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, a Hall of Fame member, said 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."

"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."

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 last week in Albany.

Tomaselli's father, meanwhile, maintains his son is lying.

Two former Syracuse ball boys were the first to accuse Fine, who has called the allegations "patently false."

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis told ESPN that the 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 began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

On Sunday, ESPN played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Laurie Fine.

Davis told ESPN he made the recording, which also has been given to Syracuse police, without her knowledge because he knew he needed proof for the police to believe his accusations. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine.

Davis also acknowledged in an interview with ESPN that he and Laurie Fine had a sexual relationship when he was 18, and that he eventually told Bernie Fine about it.

"I thought he was going to kill me, but I had to tell him," Davis said. "It didn't faze him one bit."

During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation.

"Do you think I'm the only one that he's ever done that to?" Davis asked.

"No ... I think there might have been others but it was geared to ... there was something about you," the woman on the tape said.

On the tape, she also says she knew "everything that went on."

"Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues. ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted ... "

During the call, Davis tells her he asked her husband in the late 1990s for $5,000 to help pay off his student loans.

"When he gave you the money, what does he want for that?" she asked.

He tells her that Fine wanted to engage in sexual activity in several ways.

In an email to the Syracuse University community, Cantor said that taped phone call was not given to the school by Davis during its 2005 investigation.

On Friday, federal authorities carried out a search at his Fine's suburban Syracuse home but declined to comment on what they were looking for.


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