ESPN released a 47 minute audio tape recording that is the crux of Laurie Fine's lawsuit against the sports station. Laurie Fine is the wife of fired assistant SU men’s basketball coach Bernie Fine. She says that ESPN and two of its employees defamed her by broadcasting excerpts of the audio tape. Her lawyers say those excerpts were of statements taken out of context and claims ESPN doctored the tape. Our Erin Clarke has more.
UNITED STATES – We did listen to the recording and had to listen to parts of it over and over again because it is not a clear and professionally made recording so some parts are very difficult to decipher what is being said. And that fact may work in Laurie Fine's favor. Her lawyers say she celebrates the release of the tape. But ESPN says the station thought releasing the tape was an appropriate part of their news coverage relating to the lawsuit that they said was without merit Wednesday.
In the full audio recording of an October 8th, 2002 conversation between Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis, the two talk about a relationship that Bobby had with Bernie Fine, but it is unclear what type of relationship.
Laurie Fine:"You did nothing wrong. You were a child and he took advantage of that.”
The 47 minute conversation goes back and forth about money and sex. Laurie Fine mentions that her husband is upset with Bobby Davis about money he hasn't paid back to the Fines and that she and Bernie no longer have an intimate relationship.
Our legal expert says the recording is a crucial part to the suit and will have to be examined by experts to determine whether it was doctored, as Laurie Fine's lawyers claim or if ESPN's reporting was honest.
"One of the reasons that ESPN would release the tape is for the conclusion that gee it doesn't sound like anything is altered or doctored. Probably what the plaintiff’s attorney would say is that well you can't tell that it's altered or doctored when you hear it. That's why it's so devastating," said legal expert Paul DerOhanessian.
Devastating because it would prove that statements like this....
Laurie Fine: "He used to think of ways to get me out of the room. Like I'm not an idiot.
Bobby Davis: “Exactly, like when I was in eighth grade there in the basement, he used to come down every night and I'm like what the heck, what is Laurie think?”
Laurie Fine: “ What did I think? He was doing the same thing with (bleep) and then he got disinterested in (bleep) and then he comes down to where you were every night and he'd say to me go check David or did you put David to bed, go lay with him, go upstairs...anything to get me out of the room and I knew."
Might mean that Laurie Fine was privy to what her husband was allegedly doing?
Bobby Davis:"First off he would grab me and start touching me."
Laurie Fine: "When he gave you the money, what did he want for that? He wanted you to grab him or he wanted to do you?
Bobby Davis: "He wanted to do me."
As for whether Laurie herself had an inappropriate relationship with Bobby,that too is unclear in the recording.
Laurie Fine: "When I was with you, it wasn't because of the money. It was because I wanted to."
Laurie Fine's lawyer says upon expert examination of the recording, the defamation suit will be established even further.
The recording is very subjective and Laurie Fine's lawyer told us three things that he believes it proves. That Laurie Fine repeatedly confirms that Bobby Davis was never sexually molested by Bernie Fine. That Laurie Fine repeatedly cautions Bobby Davis from contact with Bernie Fine in light of Bobby’s accusations. And that Laurie Fine repeatedly looks out for Bobby Davis as a mother would.
ESPN stands by their reporting.
ESPN offered a brief response following Fine's announcement on Wednesday. David Scott, Director of News Content, said, "The suit is without merit and we stand by our reporting."
The taped conversation on ESPN’s website is titled “Complete Bobby Davis and Laurie Fine Phone Conversation.” It states that the conversation was recorded by Davis on October 8, 2002. There is also a statement that reads: “Noise reduction software was used to improve the quality of the audio and the names of some individuals have been removed to protect their privacy. This audio contains language that some listeners might find objectionable.”
You can listen to the full phone conversation below.
Albany/HV: ESPN releases full Laurie Fine-Bobby Davis phone conversation
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