Lawyers: Records show Fine accuser is lying
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A county district attorney has given federal investigators records that may call into question the story of one of three men who have accused ex-Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexually abusing them when they were boys.
Fine's lawyers say the school records for Zach Tomaselli and travel records for the basketball team appear to prove Tomaselli fabricated his claim that Fine abused him in January 2002 at a hotel when the team played in Pittsburgh.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that he has turned over to federal investigators evidence that could be considered "exculpatory," which is evidence that helps a defendant.
Tomaselli, 23, is one of three men who accuse Fine of molesting them when they were boys. Tomaselli's claims are the only ones among the three that are eligible for prosecution within the statute of limitations.
"It appears now that there is proof that Tomaselli fabricated this allegation,"
Fine's lawyers, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, said in a joint statement, their first since early on in the three-week-old scandal. "The incredible damage that Tomaselli has inflicted on Mr. Fine cannot be overstated."
Tomaselli's phone rang unanswered Wednesday.
Fitzpatrick said two other accusers were found to be credible but their claims happened too long ago to be prosecuted. Fitzpatrick said his investigation into the allegations started out to answer several questions, among them: Were the first two accusers, Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Michael Lang, being truthful?
"On almost every single criteria, Bobby Davis came out as a credible person," the district attorney said. "Mike Lang also comes across as a credible person."
The 65-year-old Fine, who had been Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim's top assistant since 1976, has adamantly denied wrongdoing. He was fired Nov. 27.
The accusations against Fine once appeared to threaten the job of Boeheim, who has said he was unaware of any abuses happening during his tenure.
Boeheim at first vehemently defended his longtime friend and assistant and said the accusations were lies to make money in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. He later backtracked and said he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers.
Davis and Lang, both former ballboys for the team, have accused Fine of molesting them at his home, on the road with the team or in team facilities when they were boys. Fitzpatrick said allegations from Tomaselli, of Lewiston, Maine, don't relate to Onondaga County.
Fitzpatrick said a 2005 probe by the university into Davis' claims was inadequate but said people should stop calling for the resignation of Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Boeheim.
Blame, he said, stops with one man: "Hasn't Bernie Fine caused enough pain in this community?" Fitzpatrick said.
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