June 19, 2018
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Lewiston man says Syracuse coach Bernie Fine sexually abused him

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

A man with Maine ties came forward last week and alleged that Syracuse University’s longtime associate head coach molested him nine years ago, according to news reports out of New York.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston — who faces his own charges of sexual abuse in Maine — became the third man to accuse Bernie Fine of sexual abuse.

Two New York men, Bobby Davis, 39, and Mike Lang, 45, also have claimed that Fine abused them when they were children.

Police in New York are still investigating the allegations against Fine, who has not yet been charged but was fired from Syracuse on Sunday. The 35-year veteran coach for the nationally renowned Syracuse men’s basketball program has denied the charges.

“At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately,” Kevin Quinn, the school’s senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

According to a story dated Nov. 27 in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Tomaselli met with police last Wednesday in Albany, N.Y., and signed an affidavit detailing the alleged abuse in 2002 when he was 13.

Tomaselli, who grew up about 80 miles north of Syracuse, told police that he met Fine in 2001 at an autograph session at the university. Sometime after that, the Lewiston man alleged, Fine invited Tomaselli to travel to Pittsburgh with the Syracuse team, spend the night in Fine’s hotel and attend a Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh game the next day.

In the hotel room the night before the game, Tomaselli said Fine put on a pornographic movie and fondled Tomaselli’s genitals as they laid in bed, according to the Post-Standard.

Tomaselli’s father, Fred Tomaselli, said his son is lying. The father told the Post-Standard that his son never met Fine in 2001 and never spent the night with Fine in a hotel room.

The father and son appear to be estranged and the younger Tomaselli offers a possible explanation why on his Facebook page.

“I was molested both by my father and SU assistant coach Bernie Fine,” Tomaselli wrote on Monday, Nov. 21. “I have come forward with my story to the police as well as ESPN’s Mark Shwartz (sic).

“I am not sure whether I want to do a camera interview with ESPN but I wanted to announce this to encourage all sex abuse victims to come forward as tough as it is because we can stop other kids from this abuse.”

Syracuse conducted an internal investigation in 2005 after Davis first came forward with allegations, but officials found no evidence or anyone to corroborate the claims.

Similarly, Tomaselli told police he has no physical evidence against Fine and said no one witnessed the alleged abuse.

Tomaselli currently faces sexual abuse charges of his own in Maine dating back to 2009 and involving a 14-year-old boy.

Lewiston police arrested Tomaselli in April and charged him with gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, unlawful sexual touching and visual sexual aggression against a child.

Those charges stem from alleged incidents at a summer camp where Tomaselli worked as a counselor. Tomaselli has pleaded not guilty to those charges and awaits a trial. He told the Post-Standard that he has not asked police in New York or federal authorities to dismiss his charges in exchange for coming forward.

Tomaselli does not appear to have deep ties to Maine. His Facebook page indicates that he lives in Manhattan, Kan., attends Kansas State University and is from Salina, Kan.


Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. The Syracuse Post-Standard is not a student-run newspaper.

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