Just days after prison inmate Floyd VanHooser recanted his accusation of sexual abuse against former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, another alleged victim, Zach Tomaselli, is also reportedly changing his story.
Tomaselli informed The Syracuse Post-Standard that he doctored emails -- including an email supposedly from the police -- in order to convince reporters to help him publicize his claims against Fine. Despite tearfully admitting to the Standard that he'd lied about the emails, Tomaselli maintains that he was molested by Fine in 2002 and that he did inform the police of the abuse.
The 23-year-old Tomaselli was the third person to step forward alleging to have suffered abuse by Fine. On November 17, ESPN reported the allegations of Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, who both were ball boys for the Syracuse basketball team during their adolescence in the 1980s. Tomaselli came forward 10 days after the accusations of Davis and Lang were reported by ESPN and two days after a search of Fine's home had been conducted by Syracuse police.
According to Tomaselli's initial accusation, Fine molested him at a Pittsburgh hotel when he traveled with the coach to a Syracuse game against the University of Pittsburgh in January 2002. On the same day that Tomaselli's accusation was first reported, ESPN released a tape recorded conversation between Fine's wife and Davis. During that conversation, Debbie Fine seems to indicate that she was aware of the abuse of Davis and may have even had her own sexual relationship with him during his senior year in high school. In the hours after both stories broke, Fine was fired by Syracuse.
As the scandal was rocking Syracuse University, Tomaselli was also facing charges of child abuse in Maine. He would admit to molesting a boy between the ages of 13 and 14 years old who he encountered while working as a counselor at a camp the boy attended.
"The only thing that transpired was the same stuff that happened to me," Tomaselli told The Associated Press. "This kid has been through a lot because of the way I controlled him and abused him."
Shortly after Tomaselli admitted to molesting that boy, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick addressed the accustations against Fine. After vouching for the credibility of Davis and Fine, Fitzpatrick indicated he had exculpatory evidence that would cast doubt on the accusations of Tomaselli. Fitzpatrick also indicated that Tomaselli's accusations were the only ones for which Fine could face potential prosecution due to the statute of limitations for the crimes alleged to have been committed against Davis and Lang.
"It appears now that there is proof that Tomaselli fabricated this allegation," Fine's lawyers said in a joint statement after Fitzpatrick's remarks. "The incredible damage that Tomaselli has inflicted on Mr. Fine cannot be overstated."
In response to the statement by Fine's attorney, Tomaselli filed a lawsuit against Fine.
In addition to admitting to the Post-Standard that he doctored emails, Tomaselli also says that he will drop this civil suit. He says that he will also ask the police to stop their investigation into the alleged incident in Pittsburgh. Arrested in December for violating the terms of his bail and awaiting sentencing for his own crimes, Tomaselli says that he can't handle the scrutiny.
"I'm just guna ask the police to drop the investigation on Fine," Tomaselli texted the Post-Standard. "I'm sick of this. I have a couple weeks left to live. I want to be left alone."
In light of these developments, Tomaselli's lawyer has withdrawn his representation. If the police investigation into Tomaselli's allegations stops either due to his own request or due to the fact that his credibility is so tenuous given his admissions about the emails then there are no charges that can be brought against Fine relating to any of the known allegations.