Syracuse Basketball Coach Child Molestation Charges

Long time Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine has been accused of molesting ball boys.

Yet another collegiate coach has been accused of molesting small boys.

ESPN (“Syracuse’s Bernie Fine placed on leave“):

Two former Syracuse University ball boys say they were molested by associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine, starting in the late 1970s and continuing into the 1990s.

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.

“On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations.

In light of the Penn State scandal, you’d think Boeheim would have enough sense to “no comment” this or at least offer much more conditional support for his longtime assistant. Declaring so vehemently that the alleged victims are lying is really going out on a limb.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Unlike the Penn State situation, where there is third party witnesses and the coverage came only after indictments were issued, the coverage on this seems irresponsibly premature.

  2. The reason Kevin Quinn is so vehement is because these two have been repeatedly making this claim for the past 10 years. Each time its been investigated (and it’s been investigating by the Univesity, the police, AND the media) and each time the conclusion has been that they aren’t credible. Their accounts have been repeatedly contradicted by other witnesses, they don’t fit the pattern for these types of predators (they don’t molest just one kid, they molest dozens. Where are all the other victims?), and some of the accusations border on the absurd (Davis claims the molestation continued until he was 27 years old).

    This looks like two people trying to get fame and money by smearing a celebrity, and they’re just taking advantage of the Penn State situation to do so.

  3. Franklin says:

    Here we are 10 days later and it’s looking a lot worse, as Fine has been fired and his wife is on a recorded telephone call admitting she knew what happened. Good call here on Boeheim making an ill-advised comment.