Wow, we’re at a loss for words right now.
Police said Thursday that they are investigating an allegation that Syracuse University basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine molested a team ball boy for more than a decade. Later in the evening, ESPN reported that a second former ball boy, and relative of the first alleged victim, has come forward with similar allegations against Fine.
The allegations cover a period from the 1980s to the 1990s, according to a statement from the university in upstate New York.
Syracuse has placed Fine on administrative leave “in light of the new allegations and the Syracuse City Police investigation.”
The alleged victim, 39-year-old Bobby Davis, told ESPN the abuse began in 1983 before he entered seventh grade. He was the team’s ball boy for six years from 1984. The second complainant, 45-year-old Mike Lang, told ESPN Fine molested him when Lang was in fifth or sixth grade. Lang, according to ESPN, is Davis’ stepbrother.
Fine has served as an assistant coach at the school for 35 years.
Police told CNY Central the investigation is in its very early stages. As the day wore on, additional details surfaced on the nature of the allegations and Davis’ relationship with Fine, and longtime Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim released a statement in support of Fine:
”This matter was fully investigated by the University in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would [have] been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.”
On Thursday, ESPN aired an interview with Davis.
“It took me a long time to come out and say something,” Davis said. “And I just kept thinking about if he’s doing this to little kids — I got to say something. I can’t live with myself my whole life knowing that it’s going on if I never said anything and he’s still doing it.”
According to ESPN’s story, Davis originally reported the abuse to Syracuse police in 2003, but claimed that a detective told him that the statute of limitations had run out and that if Davis knew of boys being molested by Fine at the time, that Syracuse police would investigate those allegations. Davis told ESPN that he told the detective that he thought other boys were being molested but that he had only direct knowledge of Fine molesting him.
According to reports, the Syracuse police chief at the time was Dennis DuVal, a former Syracuse basketball player. DuVal, who retired in 2004, could not be reached for comment by ESPN. He played at Syracuse from 1971 to 1974, while Boeheim was an assistant.
The Post-Standard in Syracuse contacted Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick, who was first sworn in to his position in 1992. Fitzpatrick told the Post-Standard that he spoke with current police chief Frank Fowler on Thursday night and stated, “There wasn’t anything said [by Fowler to Fitzpatrick] about some investigation [currently] going on.”
In addition, Fitzpatrick told the Post-Standard that he had no recollection of this matter being brought to his attention previously and that he would not suspect a police investigation into something dating back to the 1980s because the statute of limitations had passed.
According to the New York Penal Code, there is no statute of limitations “for prosecuting first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, or first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child,” but the statute of limitations “for other sexual offenses committed against a child under age 18 is five years after the victim reaches age 18, or the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency or statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment, whichever is earlier.”
Late Thursday night, Boeheim told ESPN, “Why wouldn’t [Davis] come to the police [first this time]? Why would he go to ESPN? What are people looking for here? I believe they are looking for money. I believe they saw what happened at Penn State and they are using ESPN to get money. That is what I believe. You want to put that on the air? Put that on the air.”
We’re not sure that this is the kind of thing opportunists would jump on for a come up…
As much as this climate of scandals seems to be encouraging people to come forward about the abuse they’ve suffered, we hope it’s opening the dialogue within families to make sure that this happens to less children.