NCAA: Former Syracuse Assistant Coach Bernie Fine Drops ESPN Lawsuit

Former Syracuse Orange associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine dropped an $11 million defamation lawsuit against ESPN for reporting sexual abuse claims from two former ball boys.

Jul 3 2013, 11:03pm CDT | by

NCAA: Former Syracuse Assistant Coach Bernie Fine Drops ESPN Lawsuit
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Former Syracuse Orange associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine dropped an $11 million defamation lawsuit against ESPN.

Dylan Segelbaum of The Daily Orange reports Fine, who was fired in November 2011 over sexual abuse allegations, filed the lawsuit against ESPN for reporting sexual abuse claims attested to by two former Syracuse ball boys by the names of Mike Lang and Bobby Davis. They claim Fine molested them over two decades ago. 

The Associated Press' Michael Virtanen writes the two "accused Fine of fondling them when they were teens. Davis said the sexual contact continued for years."

Fine has since denied the allegations and wasn't charged after a year-long investigation because there wasn't enough evidence, per Segelbaum. 

Virtanen also reports another accuser, 23-year-old Zachary Tomaselli from Lewiston, Maine, said Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. On the same day, ESPN aired an audiotape featuring Fine's wife, Laurie, seemingly acknowledging she had known about Davis' claims. 

Tomaselli, on his part, was convicted of sexual abusing a boy in camp in 2010 and sentenced to three years in jail. His father said he was lying about Fine while he insists he told the truth. 

Laurie Fine filed a libel lawsuit against ESPN and two of its employees, Mark Schwarz and Arty Berko, in May 2012. Her lawyer, Lawrence Fisher, said her husband dropping his lawsuit against ESPN has no impact on his client's own lawsuit. 

William Albert, spokesman for the Harris Beach law firm, said the 67-year-old Fine wishes to put the turmoil of the past year-and-a-half behind him and move on. 

"Although Mr. Fine and his attorneys are convinced that his legal claim has merit, Mr. Fine desires to finally put all of the past year and a half behind him, so that he may concentrate on his future as well as the future of his family. Mr. Fine has been and continues to be overwhelmed by the many, many friends who have stood by him and who provided him with the strength to get through the most difficult time in his life. He will be forever grateful for their support and friendship."

Bernie Fine was hired by Syracuse coach Jim Boehim in 1976 to be one of his assistants. He helped develop big men such as Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly, John Wallace and Etan Thomas. He was named associate head coach in 2000. 





Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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