Hot on the heels of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, Syracuse University announced late last week that it had put its associate head basketball coach on administrative leave in response to allegations that he sexually molested ball boys from the 1970s to the 1990s.
ESPN reports that Syracuse police have opened an investigation in to the allegations put forth against Bernie Fine by Bobby Davis, now 39, and his stepbrother Mike Lang, now 45. Davis alleges that Fine molested him beginning in 1984, and that the abuse took place at Fine’s home, the university’s sports facilities and on road trips. Lang says Fine began molesting him several years earlier, when he was in 5th or 6th grade.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has come to the defense of Fine, who is in his 35th season as his assistant. “I know this kid, but I never saw him in any rooms or anything. It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told,” Boeheim told ESPN.
Kevin Quinn, Syracuse’s senior vice president for public affairs, issued a statement saying that in 2005, a male adult complained to the police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact from an associate basketball coach. Quinn said that the police decided not to investigate the complaint because the relevant statute of limitations had expired. He added that that university conducted its own internal investigation and found no independent corroboration for the allegations. However, now that the police have opened the case again, Quinn said the university would cooperate in the investigation.
“Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associated coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community,” the statement issued by Quinn said.
Boeheim adamantly insists that the accusations are false. “Bernie helped a lot of kids. He works with the Kidney Foundation. He works with Make-A-Wish. He works with three or four different groups. He has helped kids as I have,” he said. Fine himself has not commented on the allegations.