A longtime SU assistant basketball coach is on administrative leave following allegations of child molestation. Bernie Fine is accused of molesting a former Syracuse ball boy in the 1980s. ESPN reported this story Thursday. Syracuse Police say they are in the early stages of an investigation. Our Iris St. Meran has the latest details.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- This news comes just two weeks after a child sex abuse controversy sent shockwaves throughout the campus of Penn State University. Now, similar accusations have come to the SU Hill.
Thursday, ESPN first reported Bobby Davis, 39, came forward with allegations against Bernie Fine. In an article, Davis says the abuse began in 1983.
ESPN was aware of these allegations back in 2003. They did not report his allegations at that time since there was no corroboration. But Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, also came forward accusing Fine of abuse. They both spoke to the network Thursday night.
"If I had just shorts on he would just put his hands, first he would start rubbing my leg and he would sit next to me and rub my leg and then just gradually put his hand down my pants," said alleged victim Bobby Davis.
"When he first did it, he'd move away and you wouldn't say anything ‘cause you, you know, you didn't feel like you were capable of saying anything, you know. He's a god to you, you know," said alleged victim Mike Lang.
The University first heard these allegations in 2005. A spokesperson says the school did a comprehensive investigation back then. Head coach Jim Boeheim released a statement Thursday night. He said after SU's investigation, it was determined the claims were unfounded. He also said Fine has his full support.
Statement from Kevin Quinn, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, Syracuse University
“In 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men’s basketball coach. The alleged activity took place in the 1980’s and 1990’s. We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
“On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations.
“Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associate coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community.”
Statement from Jim Boeheim
“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 been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."
--Syracuse University head men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim