Friday, November 18, 2011

Syracuse Basketball Faces Sex Scandal

Two men are accusing a Syracuse basketball assistant coach of sexually molesting them for years - from the late 1970s until the 1990s. The coach, Bernie Fine, has been placed on administrative leave by the university as law enforcement looks into the allegations. But this isn't the first time that these claims had been made.
Police in Syracuse said they have opened an investigation into the allegations. And in a statement Thursday night, Syracuse said it has placed Fine on administrative leave.


One alleged victim, Bobby Davis, now 39, told Outside the Lines that Fine molested him beginning in 1984, shortly before Davis entered the seventh grade. Davis, the team's ball boy for six years beginning in 1984, said the abuse occurred at Fine's home, at the Syracuse basketball facilities, and on road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.

The second alleged victim, Mike Lang, now 45, is Davis' stepbrother and was also a ball boy for several years. He told Outside the Lines that Fine molested him starting when Lang was in fifth or sixth grade.

Davis said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim saw him in Fine's hotel room on several of those road trips, but Davis said he never told Boeheim about the alleged abuse.

Police stressed to Outside The Lines they are in the early stages of the investigation. Thursday evening, police told ESPN they were going to interview both men who made the allegations.

Both men spoke in on-camera interviews with ESPN on Thursday night. Both described what they said were encounters with Fine, including reaching into their shorts and rubbing their genitals.

"I didn't feel right about it," Lang said. "And I told him Bernie, 'please don't do that to me.' "

Fine is in his 35th season as an assistant to Boeheim, who came to his defense.

"I know this kid, but I never saw him in any rooms or anything," Boeheim told ESPN. "It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told. You don't think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?

"He supplied four names to the university that would corroborate his story. None of them did ... there is only one side to this story. He is lying."

Kevin Quinn, Syracuse's senior vice president for public affairs, issued a statement on behalf of the school: "In 2005, Syracuse University was contacted 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. The alleged activity took place in the 1980's and 1990's. We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
The university initiated its own inquiry in 2005 and found no corroborating evidence of the claims and unlike the situation at Penn State, Coach Jim Boeheim is standing by his assistant coach and dismisses the allegations.

Still, it is uncanny how these claims are now coming forward as a result of the massive news crush on the Penn State sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky; it's likely to lead to still other claims of molestation at colleges and universities across the country - potentially involving high profile programs. In that respect, the news may lead to substantive changes in how colleges and universities approach allegations of abuse. It may also lead to changes in how states address the statute of limitations on these kinds of crimes or encourage alleged victims to come forward sooner.

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