Friday, November 18, 2011

Molestation charges in Syracuse: Tough decisions

Bernie Fine


Perhaps it was a result of the chaos at Penn State. Perhaps it was something a long time coming. Maybe it was somewhat questionable investigating. Either way, two brothers are alleging that Syracuse University basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine molested them when they were kids.

The accusations are not new. 39-year old Bobby Davis made them to the Syracuse Post-Standard back in 2002, ESPN in 2003 and the University themselves in 2005. Davis said the improper behavior began in the early 80's when he was a ball boy for the basketball team and for a time lived at Fine's home, in the basement.

ESPN also prepared a story on this around the same time.

Davis told them at the time he was trying to prevent Fine from doing anything to other kids. Both the newspaper and ESPN investigated along with Syracuse police and the University as well. None of the organizations at the time found anyone to corroborate Davis's story or evidence a crime was committed.

ESPN held the story until Thursday night when they came forward with a corroborating witness, Davis's step brother Mike Lang.

Read the story from the Post-Standard RIGHT HERE

Read the ESPN "Outside-the-lines" story RIGHT HERE

Fine, who has been the top assistant to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, was placed on administrative leave by the school immediately and the school along with police, have re-opened their investigation.

Boeheim issued a statement defending his friend:

"This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40-years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would have been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."

The schools chancellor, Nancy Cantor (no relation) issued a statement, you can read it by following the link RIGHT HERE

This is a difficult story, particularly in light of what is happening at Penn State. It certainly is something that must be taken very seriously and it appears that everyone involved is, contrary to what Penn State did.

It is extremely hard to tell if Davis and his step-brother are just looking for publicity or there is a serious issue.

On the other hand, the school has been extremely pro-active it appears in investigating the allegations. More than once. Multiple people within the administration are willing to stick their necks out on this. For Jim Boeheim to say what he did, if Fine was found guilty, would be career suicide. And nobody thinks Boeheim would do that.

**UPDATE**--Bernie Fine issued a statement Friday afternoon denying all charges leveled against him. Fine, via his attorney said - "Simply put, these allegations are patently false in every aspect. The fact is that these allegations have been thoroughly investigated multiple times. When evaluating the veracity of these accusations, please keep in mind that credible media outlets were approached in the past to publicize these false allegations and declined to do so. I fully cooperated with all past inquiries.

"Sadly, we live in an allegation based society and an internet age where in a matter of minutes one's life long reputation can be severely damaged. I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation. I hope the latest review of these allegations will be conducted expeditiously.

"Finally, I appreciate the Chancellor's statement that I should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend myself against these accusations. I fully intend to do so. There should never be a rush to judgement when someone's personal integrity and career are on the line."

ESPN has graciously provided an embed for this story, watch for yourself and try deciding:

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