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Bernie Fine Investigation: Syracuse DA Says No State Charges, Statute Of Limitations Has Passed

First Posted: 12/07/11 11:16 AM ET Updated: 12/07/11 08:54 PM ET

By Meghan Barr, The Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A county district attorney who sharply criticized police and Syracuse University for their handling of sex abuse allegations against an assistant basketball coach said Wednesday that he cannot bring charges but found that two men who accused him of sexual abuse are credible.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said he found that two men who accused him of sexual abuse are credible, but that the crimes alleged are too old to be prosecuted.

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 Penn State sex abuse scandal. He later backtracked and said he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers.

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. Fitzpatrick said the third man's allegations don't relate to Onondaga County.

The 65-year-old Fine, who had been Boeheim's top assistant since 1976, has adamantly denied wrongdoing. He was fired after the three men made public accusations and ESPN played a 2002 recording of a phone call in which a woman ESPN identified as his wife tells an accuser she knew "everything that went on."

Accusations from two men, former ballboys Bobby 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 say. 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.

Bernie Fine - Ex-Syracuse Assistant Coach
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Fine joined Jim Boeheim's coaching staff at Syracuse in 1976 and established himself as one of the most respected assistant coaches at the collegiate level. The longtime lieutenant to Boeheim has recently been fired from his position and is facing allegations from three individuals that he sexually abused them as young boys.

Fine initially dismissed the allegations, stating that they were "patently false."

Syracuse placed Fine on administrative leave after ESPN reported on the police investigation. However, Fine was fired shortly after a third alleged third victim came forward and ESPN went public with tape-recorded conversations between one of the victims, Bobby Davis, and Fine's wife, in which she seems to indicate that she was aware of the molestation.
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Filed by Chris Greenberg  |