Syracuse, NY —
Less than two weeks after the collegiate sports world was rocked by allegations of pedophilia by a former Penn State football coach, an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University has been accused of molesting young boys.
Bernie Fine, 65, has been accused of sexually assaulting two former ball boys, who happen to be step-brothers. The alleged victims, Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, now 39 and 45 respectively, claim that Fine molested them starting in the 1970's and continuing through the early 1990's. He has been an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse since 1976, the longest streak for any coach of that position at one school.
A message from Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor posted today on syr.edu said: "First, as has been announced, Bernie Fine has been placed on administrative leave pending a new investigation by the Syracuse Police Department. He has vehemently denied the allegations and should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend himself against these accusations.
"As we have communicated publicly in response to media inquiries, in 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who asserted that he had reported allegations in 2005 of abuse in the 1980s and 1990s to the police. That same individual told us that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
"On hearing of the allegations, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. The nearly four-month-long investigation included a number of interviews with people the individual said would support his claims. All of those identified by him denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. At the end of the investigation, as we were unable to find any corroboration of the allegations, the case was closed. Had any evidence or corroboration of earlier allegations surfaced—even if the police had declined to pursue the matter—we would have acted."
Local law enforcement officials have promised a full investigation to determine the validity of the accusations and also to determine whether there has been any cover-up or University involvement.
Fine denies all charges and in a statement today said in part: "Simply put, these allegations are patently false in every aspect. The fact is 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 inquires. 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."
The fallout from the Penn State debacle has been significant following the arrest of accused boy molester Jerry Sandusky. World famous football coach Joe Paterno has been fired along with other University officials. Others have been suspended. Investigations are under way by the Pennsylvania Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).