Photograph by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The statute of limitations may prevent ex-Syracuse men's basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine from facing child sex charges, but two of his accusers announced Tuesday that they wil sue the university and head basketball coach Jim Boeheim for defamation.
Stepbrothers Bobby Davis and Michael Lang have accused Fine of sexually abusing them as children, accusations that Fine denies. Their complaint with the university is that Boeheim forcefully came to Fine's defense immediately after the story broke, saying that they were lying. Boeheim later apologized for his comments.
CNN reports that Lang told reporters at a Tuesday press conference (called by his laywer, Gloria Allred) that Boeheim's comments made him feel "sick to my stomach" and that they "may have stopped others from coming forward."
Davis struck a similar note in an interview on Piers Morgan Tonight later Tuesday. "I am coming forth to [help] give children the courage to talk," he said. "I was afraid all my life to talk about this."
According to Davis, on one occasion, Boeheim walked into Fine's hotel room and saw Davis lying on the bed. "Over the past 35 years, Boeheim had hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to observe Fine's relationship with boys," Allred said.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: A New York district attorney on Wednesday apologized to two men who stepped forward to accuse ex-Syracuse men's basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine of sexually abusing them when they were children, but said that local authorities won't be able to press charges against Fine because the statute of limitations has expired.
"Bobby, I'm sorry it took so long," Onondaga County DA William Fitzpatrick said at a news conference, CBS News reports, referring to Bobby Davis who, along with his stepbrother Michael Lang, claim that Fine molested them in the 1980s when the two were ball boys for the university's basketball team.
"On almost every single criteria, Bobby Davis came out as a credible person,” Fitzpatrick said. "Mike Lang also comes across as a credible person."
Fine was fired from Syracuse in late November after 35 years as the school’s top assistant after ESPN aired a story that featured Davis's allegations. The report included a recorded 2002 telephone call between Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie, during which she appeared to suggest that she was aware that her husband was sexually abusing Davis.
Davis originally went to the police back in 2002 with his accusations, but a detective told him then that the crimes had happened too long ago to bring charges. Fitzpatrick said that a 2005 internal investigation by the police department into the matter did not go as far as it should have, but insisted that there were no signs that anyone intentionally tried to cover the accusations up.
"Certainly, in hindsight, more should have been done to encourage Bobby Davis to come forward, to make him feel welcome to come in and give a statement," Fitzpatrick said. "There is not a shred of evidence that we have uncovered, or a suggestion of evidence, that anybody at the Syracuse Police Department was directed to ignore this matter, destroy their notes or to encourage Bobby Davis to remain silent."
A third victim, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine, has also stepped forward, accusing Fine of more recent sexual abuse. His allegations fall within federal statutes of limitations, and are currently being investigated by federal authorities.