Gone on Sunday night was the vigorous defense of his long-time friend and associate coach, Bernie Fine. Instead, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim spoke of the investigation and of victims of sexual abuse after the university fired Fine on the heels of a new allegation and an “Outside the Lines” report.
When initial allegations surfaced 11 days ago, Boeheim theorized that Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, the first two accusers, were seeking money. On Sunday night, the tone and substance of Boeheim’s comments, which came in the form of a statement, had changed:
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”
The latest accuser is Zach Tomaselli, a 23-year-old from Lewiston, Maine. He said Sunday that he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room; his father contends he is lying. On Nov. 17, Davis, a former ballboy, and Lang, a relative of Davis’s, accused Fine of molesting them years ago. On Sunday, Fine’s wife, Laurie, appeared to confirm the allegations on an audiotape Davis made of a conversation they allegedly had. On the tape, played on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”, a voice identified as Laurie Fine’s said in 2002: “I know everything that went on, you know. …Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues. …And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted.” Bernie Fine denies the allegations, calling them “patently false.”
The story out of Syracuse comes almost a month after Penn State Coach Joe Paterno was fired, with former assistant Jerry Sandusky facing 40 counts of molesting eight boys over 15 years. As investigations continue, Syracuse and Boeheim prepare to play another basketball game, facing Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night, as a national sex-abuse survivors group calls for Boeheim to be punished. Is it possible that Boeheim will be able to continue to coach the team? Should he be allowed to continue to coach the team? Or should he, like Paterno, be fired?
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