Syracuse's Fine fired after more allegations


Syracuse's Fine fired after more allegations

From Comcast SportsNet

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)Thirty-six years after he was hired as an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University, Bernie Fine is out of a job amid an investigation into child molestation allegations against him.

Fine was fired Sunday night after a third man accused him of molesting him nine years ago.

At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fines employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately, Kevin Quinn, the schools senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

Fine, who turns 66 in December, held the longest active streak of consecutive seasons at one school among assistant coaches in Division I. He has denied the allegations.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, said Sunday that he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. The third accuser to come forward, Tomaselli said Fine touched him multiple times in that one incident.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he supported the universitys decision to fire his longtime assistant and expressed regret for his initial statements that might have been insensitive to victims of abuse.

The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling, Boeheim said in a statement released by the school. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.

Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he signed an affidavit accusing Fine following a meeting with Syracuse police last week in Albany.

Tomasellis father, meanwhile, maintains his son is lying.

Two former Syracuse ball boys were the first to accuse Fine, who has called the allegations patently false.

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis told ESPN that the abuse occurred at Fines home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.

Davis stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

When the accusations first became public Nov. 17, Boeheim adamantly defended his lifelong friend.

In an interview that day with the Post-Standard, Boeheim attacked Davis reasons for going public with his accusations.

The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money, Boeheim said. Hes tried before. And now hes trying again. If he gets this, hes going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? Id say about 50 million. Thats what this is about. Money.

No one answered the door at the Fine home Sunday. Before Fines firing, his attorneys released a statement saying Fine would not comment beyond his initial statement.

Any comment from him would only invite and perpetuate ancient and suspect claims, attorneys Donald Martin and Karl Sleight said. Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities.

Tomaselli said the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky prompted him to come forward. Sandusky is accused in a grand jury indictment of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period.

Amid the child sex-abuse scandal, Penn States trustees ousted longtime football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier. The trustees said Spanier and Paterno, who is not the target of any criminal investigation, failed to act after a graduate assistant claimed he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in a campus shower in 2002. Former school administrators Tim Curleywho is on administrative leaveand Gary Schultz are charged with not properly alerting authorities to suspected abuse and with perjury. They maintain their innocence.

It was the Sandusky stuff that came out that really made me think about it, Tomaselli said in the phone interview. A lot of people were slamming ESPN and Bobby for saying anything. I wanted to come out. It made me sick to see all that support for Fine at that point. I was positive he was guilty.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard that he didnt ask Syracuse police or federal authorities for help in getting the criminal charges dismissed against him in Maine.

Tomaselli was arrested in April on 11 warrants charging gross sexual assault, tampering with a victim, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, five counts of visual sexual aggression against a child and unlawful sexual touching and unlawful sexual contact, Lewiston police said Sunday. They did not say what led to the charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard he met Fine after he and his father, Fred, attended a Syracuse autograph session on campus in late 2001.

The newspaper reported that Fine later called Tomasellis parents to arrange for Tomaselli to go to Pittsburgh with the athletic department staff on a chartered bus, spend the night in Fines hotel room and attend the teams game on Jan. 22, 2002.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard that he had dinner with the team, then returned to the hotel room where he accused Fine of putting porn on the TV and fondling him in bed.

Tomaselli attended the basketball game the next day, sitting several rows behind the bench, and rode the chartered bus back to Syracuse, the newspaper reported.

The one time there was multiple incidents in that one night, but there was only one night that he ever sexually abused me, Tomaselli told the AP.

However, during a phone interview with the AP, Fred Tomaselli said: Im 100 percent sure that Bernie Fine was never in contact with Zach. He never went to Pittsburgh to a game, never been to that arena.

I brought him to a couple of games in Syracuse. We always sat in the nosebleed section and left after the game. He never stayed for any overnighters and never even got within shouting distance of Bernie.

During his long career with Syracuse, Fine tutored the likes of Derrick Coleman, LeRon Ellis and John Wallace in his role of working with post players. Coleman was the top pick in the 1990 NBA draft, Ellis was the Clippers 22nd overall choice in 1991, and Wallace was picked 18th in 1996 by the New York Knicks.

Boeheim and Fine met at Syracuse University in 1963, when Fine was student manager of the basketball team. Fine graduated in 1967 with a degree in personal and industrial relations and went into business for himself.

In 1970, Fine was named basketball and football coach at Lincoln Junior High in Syracuse and went to Henninger High School the next year as the junior varsity basketball coach. He became varsity basketball coach in 1975. When Boeheim was chosen to succeed Roy Danforth at Syracuse in 1976 Boeheim offered Fine a job as an assistant.

Fine was an integral part of the staff that guided Syracuse to the national championship in 2003. During his tenure the Orange also made two other appearances in the NCAA title game, losing in 1987 to Indiana and in 1996 to Kentucky. He also guided the U.S. Maccabiah team to a silver medal at the 1993 World Maccabiah Games in Israel and has served as director of a successful basketball camp in the Northeast.

The Post-Standard also reported that Zach Tomaselli was invited by Fine to a party at his home after the Syracuse-Pitt game on Feb. 1, 2003a game where Zach Tomaselli said Fine arranged seats for him and his father several rows behind the bench.

Tomaselli told the newspaper his father, who was unable to attend the party, allowed him to go to Fines house and stay the night.

While there, Tomaselli told the AP, Fine asked him to get into bed and that Fines wife, Laurie, was there when it happened.

I told them (police) that Laurie was standing right there when Bernie asked me to sleep in a bed. Laurie knew all about it, he said during the phone interview.

On Sunday, ESPN played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Laurie Fine.

Davis told ESPN he made the recording, which also has been given to Syracuse police, without her knowledge because he knew he needed proof for the police to believe his accusations. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine.

Davis also acknowledged in an interview with ESPN that he and Laurie Fine had a sexual relationship when he was 18, and that he eventually told Bernie Fine about it.

I thought he was going to kill me, but I had to tell him, Davis said. It didnt faze him one bit.

During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation.

Do you think Im the only one that hes ever done that to? Davis asked.

No I think there might have been others but it was geared to there was something about you, the woman on the tape said.

On the tape, she also says she knew everything that went on.

Bernie has issues, maybe that hes not aware of, but he has issues. And you trusted somebody you shouldnt have trusted

During the call, Davis tells her he asked her husband in the late 1990s for 5,000 to help pay off his student loans.

When he gave you the money, what does he want for that? she asked.

He tells her that Fine wanted to engage in sexual activity in several ways.

And Id try to go away, and hed put his arm on top of my chest. He goes, If you want this money, youll stay right here, Davis said.

Right. Right, she said. He just has a nasty attitude, because he didnt get his money, nor did he get what he wanted.

In an email to the Syracuse University community, Cantor said that taped phone call was not given to the school by Davis during its 2005 investigation.

On Friday, federal authorities carried out a search at his Fines suburban Syracuse home but declined to comment on what they were looking for.

New York State Police spokesman Jack Keller said troopers were called to assist the U.S. attorneys office at the search. At least six police vehicles were parked on the street during the search, which lasted around nine hours. Officers carted away three file cabinets and a computer for further examination.

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.