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SU under attack for way 2005 investigation was conducted

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Albany/HV: SU under attack for way 2005 investigation was conducted
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Syracuse University finds itself under growing attack for the way it conducted an investigation in 2005 into allegations against associate basketball coach Bernie Fine. While new reports raise questions over whether the University should have gone to police, YNN's Bill Carey says there are other questions now being raised about the scope of the report and what SU did after the report was completed.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It was three years after the initial claims by Bobby Davis had been brought to Syracuse Police, the Post Standard and ESPN. By then, Davis was used to people not acting on his allegations.

SU did not refer Davis to police or the district attorney's office. Instead, the school turned to its lawyers at Bond, Schoeneck and King to investigate. This despite the fact that B,S & K does not list criminal law as among its areas of expertise. The report has been criticized as being poorly done.

Sources familiar with the report tell YNN that it seemed designed more to clear Bernie Fine's name than to dig deeply into the allegations against him. There are also no indications that the University took any steps to monitor Fine in the aftermath of the investigation, nor were there indications of any changes in policies or procedures that might avert the likelihood of any incidents in the future.

For example, the University allows an annual Jim Boeheim Big Orange basketball camp for youngsters at the Carrier Dome. Despite the 2005 allegations to the school, the man who effectively ran the camp was Bernie Fine.

“There's kids from California, Florida here. We have probably kids from 25 or 30 different states. And it's a great opportunity to showcase the University and also give something back to the game of basketball, where we can help some of the young kids, hopefully, get better or have a good experience,” Fine said in 2007.

The University has also not indicated if, at any time, it advised Fine's supervisor of the allegations and investigation. That supervisor? Head basketball coach Jim Boeheim.

David Potter is not surprised by the story of what happened to Bobby Davis. Back in 2008, as an Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the College of Arts and Sciences at SU, he had championed the cause of a co-ed who brought charges of sexual abuse at the hands of three basketball players. The DA's office said there would be no criminal charges. The school worked out a settlement with the players, against the wishes of the girl.

Potter said, “You cannot have millions of dollars at play and not have elements of corruption creep in, almost everywhere. A few exceptions, but almost everywhere.”

As far as the 2005 investigation of the Fine case? Potter doubts it was designed to find the truth.

“If you want to be sure you can contain the problem, well, use your in house lawyer and say that you've had a solid investigation. Now, it may turn out that there was a wonderful investigation. Can't rule that out. But just going on what we've got to look at now, which is very little, I'd be highly suspicious,” Potter said.

And, as for the claim that Jim Boeheim wasn't informed, despite an investigation of his top assistant? Potter says that would be, in his words, “very unusual.”

Syracuse University says it has launched a new investigation of its own 2005 probe of the Fine case. This time, it has brought in a New York City law firm, best known in the Syracuse area as being on the losing end of the Destiny-Citigroup legal battle.

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