Ex-Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine suing ESPN for defamation

According to the Associated Press, former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine is suing ESPN for defamation for “reporting two former ball boys’ claims that the longtime coach sexually abused them.”

Fine, an assistant under Jim Boeheim for 25 years, was fired 10 days after ESPN reported on Nov. 17, 2011, that Fine was accused of abusing team ball boys. A lengthy federal investigation resulted in no charges. Here’s the AP:

In the court paperwork, Fine indicates he’ll sue for defamation and seek undefined damages. The “summons with notice” was filed Nov. 15, 2012, in state Supreme Court in Onondaga County and sat unreported until Thursday, when The Associated Press asked the court clerk for a copy.

Fine’s Buffalo-based lawyer, Richard Sullivan, declined to comment Thursday.

ESPN spokesman David Scott said the network doesn’t comment on pending litigation and stands by its reporting.

Hearst Corporation and Walt Disney Corporation, which together own ESPN, are also named as co-defendants along with reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Arthur Berko.

The story later mentions that Fine’s wife, Laurie, is also suing ESPN for defamation. It says the 67-year-old Fine has been hired “as a consultant for an Israeli basketball team.”

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Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt | March 28, 2013