SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A district attorney who has been sharply critical of police and university investigations into claims that a fired Syracuse assistant basketball coach molested boys said he would address the current investigation Wednesday.
It will be the first formal press conference by William Fitzpatrick, the district attorney for Onondaga County, specifically to discuss accusations that three men have brought against Bernie Fine.
Fine has denied the claims. He was fired Nov. 27 after the third accuser, a man from Maine, came forward and ESPN aired an audiotape in which a woman identified as Fine’s wife said she knew “everything that went on.”
A spokesman for Fitzpatrick declined to comment Tuesday evening.
At a press conference about an unrelated case two weeks ago, Fitzpatrick criticized the work of police who acknowledge they didn’t launch a formal investigation in 2002 when the first accuser, former ballboy Bobby Davis, came forward. Police said they knew the statute of limitations had expired and they asked Davis to provide more evidence or other accusers but he didn’t.
Fitzpatrick said he should have been notified of that inquiry and blasted Syracuse University for not contacting him when it did an internal investigation in 2005.
The accusations against Fine once appeared to threaten the job of Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, who has said he is unaware of any abuses happening during his tenure. Boeheim at first vehemently defended his longtime friend and assistant and said the accusations were lies to make money in the wake of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State, where a former assistant football coach is accused of molesting eight boys, some on campus. Boeheim later backtracked and said he was wrong to question the motives of Fine’s accusers.
The three men, including two former ballboys for the team, have accused Fine of molesting them at his home, on the road with the team or in team facilities when they were boys.
The 65-year-old Fine, who had been Boeheim’s top assistant since 1976, has adamantly denied wrongdoing.
Accusations from two men, Davis and Michael Lang, happened too long ago to be prosecuted. The claims of the third man, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli, of Lewiston, Maine, fall within federal statutes of limitations and are being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.
Investigators searched Fine’s home, office and school locker, looking for pornography that could be used “to sexually arouse or groom young males” to have sex, court records show. The investigators took computers, cameras, disks and records, among other things. They’re also looking for any records that would detail Fine’s contact with boys.