May 23, 2018
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Lewiston man who accused Syracuse coach sentenced for abusing boy

Michael York | AP
Michael York | AP
Zach Tomaselli
DAVID SHARP, The Associated Press

AUBURN, Maine — A Lewiston man who accused former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of molesting him was sentenced Wednesday to three years and three months in prison for sexually abusing a boy in Maine.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, pleaded guilty in December to gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and two other sex-related counts, while seven other counts were dropped. The plea bargain called for a 12-year sentence, but the amount of time served was capped at three years and three months.

At Wednesday’s hearing in Androscoggin County Superior Court, Tomaselli accepted responsibility and apologized to the victim, who attended a camp where Tomaselli was a counselor. The boy was 13 and 14 at the time at the time of the sexual abuse.

Tomaselli told Justice Robert Clifford he was using drugs and was angry because he was sexually abused and his abusers weren’t brought to justice.

“I let my past manifest itself into my actions instead of thinking about what I was doing,” he said.

Tomaselli is one of three men to accuse Fine of molesting them as boys, but his is the only case that falls within the statute of limitations. The U.S. attorney’s office is investigating his claim that Fine molested him in 2002 in Pittsburgh. Fine, who was fired, has denied the accusations.

Tomaselli grew up outside of Watertown, N.Y, before moving to Maine to live with his grandmother in Lewiston. After counseling, Tomaselli said he understands that he’d groomed the boy for a sexual relationship, and he has said he intends to get additional help.

On Nov. 17, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang publicly accused Fine of sexually abusing them when they were team ball boys in the 1980s. Police can’t investigate those claims because they happened too long ago.

Ten days later, Tomaselli came forward to say Fine touched him “multiple times” in a hotel room in Pittsburgh when the team played there.

On Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden said it took courage for the victim’s family to see the case through to the end because the victim had to relive the abuse through Tomaselli’s repeated presence in the media.

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