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Fourth Bernie Fine accuser comes forward

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Albany/HV: Fourth Bernie Fine accuser comes forward
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The U.S. Attorney's office is continuing its investigation of the case against Bernie Fine. The former associated basketball coach at Syracuse University is facing allegations of sexual abuse of young boys. Accusers have slowly been emerging with details of their claims against Fine. YNN's Bill Carey says the latest victim to step forward has already run afoul of the county's DA.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The District Attorney had made it clear. He found the stories told by Bobby Davis and Michael Lang to be credible. Evidence enough that he would have brought criminal charges, if only the statute of limitations hadn't passed.

He raised questions, though, about the story told by third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, saying he had given Bernie Fine's attorneys evidence that might be used to challenge Tomaselli's account.

Then, there was a fourth accuser. A man Fitzpatrick said was serving a life term in prison. A man who he said was not credible. In effect, he said, there was no fourth accuser.

The man was Floyd VanHooser, locked away for life after numerous felony convictions.

The impression had been left that his story was simply a case of a prison inmate looking for a deal.

But it turns out it was not VanHooser who had approached authorities to tell his story about Bernie Fine. Police had been tipped by a social worker that Floyd VanHooser was somebody that they might want to talk to.

It was 42 years ago that first met the man living on Wilson Street, then a basketball coach in middle school. Bernie Fine would go on to become a prime figure at Syracuse University.

VanHooser would go on to what he claims was years of sexual abuse. A story he finally told a girlfriend in 2002.

“He was going to go do some work for Bernie and he seemed a little agitated. And he said he really didn't want to go. And I asked him why and he told me that Bernie had been abusing him since he was 14,” said Cindy Clarke, VanHooser’s former girlfriend.

Abuse that had gone on at Wilson Street, at a new home in Fayetteville, at Fine's office at Syracuse University. All the time, VanHooser getting in more and more legal trouble as he sank deeper into drug and alcohol abuse.

“He's trying to deaden the pain. He's trying to run from it,” Clarke said.

Clarke hopes people will listen to VanHooser’s story. And that he might encourage others to come forward to tell their own tales.

Clarke said, “This man needs to be stopped. He's very sick and he's very evil.”

She says Fine needs to pay for his crimes, just as VanHooser now pays for his.

The U.S. Attorney has not commented on questions of whether it was Floyd VanHooser's story that led to search warrants for Bernie Fine's home and office.

Fine has not yet been charged with any crime.

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