June 25, 2018
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Search in Syracuse coach inquiry targets locker

By John Kekis, The Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Federal authorities have searched a locker in the Syracuse University basketball center in their investigation of former assistant coach Bernie Fine, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case.

Three men, including two former Syracuse ballboys, have accused Fine of molesting them as minors.

The official confirmed the search at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center happened Wednesday. The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because it’s an ongoing investigation, would not say what agents sought or what they recovered from the locker.

The coaches’ lockers are on the second floor of the facility; players’ lockers are on the first floor.

Court documents show the third search warrant was issued Tuesday and signed by U.S. Magistrate Andrew Baxter.

Fine’s office on campus was searched Tuesday morning, and his suburban home was searched last Friday. The U.S. Attorney’s office in northern New York, which is leading the investigation, has not said what it sought or found.

Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim did not address the Fine investigation at the start of his weekly radio show Thursday night.

When the show began, host Matt Park said Boeheim had already “extensive comments” Tuesday.

“If you want to talk about basketball, please call,” Park said. “There will be nothing more to say about the investigation.”

Outside the Carrier Dome, more than a dozen students had put up tents in a temporary encampment called “Boeheimburg, already waiting by the doors for Friday’s night game against No. 10 Florida.

Huddling against the cold, one group of students said they had been waiting outside since Tuesday and enthusiastically supported Boeheim. Max Kaplan, a freshman from Randolph, N.J., called Boeheim “the face of Syracuse basketball.”

Earlier Thursday, Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor said the school decided to fire Fine upon hearing an audiotape recorded by Bobby Davis, one of Fine’s three accusers. ESPN broadcast the 2002 audiotape, recorded by Davis, of a conversation between Davis and a woman ESPN identified as Fine’s wife, Laurie, in which she says she knew “everything that went on.”

Cantor’s comments were in a published response to a USA Today editorial Thursday that calls on Syracuse to release a “full accounting” of what it did and why Fine was kept on the job.

Fine, who was denied the allegations, was fired Sunday.

Federal authorities are not constrained by a statute of limitations should they turn up evidence Fine molested his latest accuser, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine. He said he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room after a game. He said Fine touched him “multiple” times in that one incident.

Under federal law in 2002, prosecutions for the sexual or physical abuse or kidnapping of a child under 18 could continue until the victim turned 25. Subsequent amendments changed that to the life of the child or 10 years after the offense, whichever is longer.

Tomaselli, who faces sexual abuse charges in Maine, filed a claim of sex abuse against his father, Fred Tomaselli, in June in New York. Lt. Glenn Miner, a spokesman for the New York State Police, confirmed the investigation was completed in September and no charges were brought against Fred Tomaselli.

Fred Tomaselli has said he thinks his son is lying about being abused by Fine.

As the investigation continues, advocates for sex abuse victims have said Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim should resign or be fired for adamantly defending Fine and verbally disparaging the accusers.

University trustees have been instructed to refer all questions back to the university but some contacted by The Associated Press offered support for Boeheim and said there was no indication his job was in danger.

Davis first contacted Syracuse police in 2002 regarding Fine, but there was no investigation because the state statute of limitations had passed. In 2005, Davis went to the university, which did its own investigation, but the school said the accusations could not be corroborated.

In her response to USA Today, Cantor wrote that if the tape had surfaced during the school’s inquiry Fine would have been fired. And she added that the school would have fired him immediately on Nov. 17, when Davis’ allegations became public, had it known about the tape.

Davis, now 39, told ESPN last month that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis said the abuse occurred at Fine’s home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four. Davis’ stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade.

Repeated attempts to reach Davis and Lang have been unsuccessful.

Associated Press Writers Ben Dobbin, and Michael Virtanen and Mary Esch in Albany contributed to this report.

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