Advocates for victims of child sexual abuse continue to weigh in on the Bernie Fine investigation. Father Bob Hoatson and members of the New York Coalition to Protect Children returned to Syracuse Thursday. Our Kat De Maria tells us what they had to say.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- He's been one of the Bernie Fine case's biggest critics and even though he lives and works in New Jersey, he’s become a fixture on the corner of Waverly and South Crouse Avenues near Syracuse University since the investigation started three weeks ago.
Father Bob Hoatson's latest visit addressed a news conference Wednesday by Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.
"We are glad the district attorney finally number one acknowledged that there are serious issues with the way Bobby Davis and Mike Lang were treated and handled during the past nearly ten years," Hoatson said.
Fitzpatrick supported alleged victims Davis and Lang, even addressing and apologizing to Davis directly at times. But the DA's ultimate conclusion was that he could not convene a grand jury or further investigate their claims against Fine, because the statute of limitations has run out.
Hoatson and other members of New York's Coalition to Protect Children called on Fitzpatrick to reconsider that and urged state leaders need to pass the Child Victims Act, or Markey Bill, which would temporarily lift then permanently extend that statutory time frame.
"I am here in support of the Child Victims Act. We need to remember that this trauma lasts a lifetime," said Utica-Rochester SNAP Coordinator Marianne Barone Trent.
"We feel the Markey Bill would solve this problem and prevent the statute of limitations from protecting people such as Bernie Fine and any of those people who may have assisted Mr. Fine in covering up the abuse that occurred," said coalition member Richard Tollner.
Other laws coalition members are championing would make various groups of people, up to including all adults, mandated reporters, meaning they would have to inform authorities about any claims of child sexual abuse.
"Right now in New York State, there is not mandatory reporting for sex abuse cases: Churches, charities, kids' baseball or sports leagues, do not have to report any child abuse they find. We find that reprehensible," Tollner said.
The federal investigation into Bernie Fine continues. The former coach has denied the abuse allegations.
In his last appearance in Syracuse, Father Hoatson revealed the existence of a possible fourth victim of Bernie Fine. Wednesday, DA Fitzpatrick said that person is a persistent felony offender serving a life prison sentence. The DA said there simply is no fourth victim and Hoatson Thursday declined to offer any further details of his claim. All he said was that victims should not be judged by their adult crimes, but by their allegations of abuse.