Bernie Fine case: Third warrant issued

Updated: December 2, 2011, 9:08 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A law enforcement official familiar with the child sex abuse investigation of fired Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine says federal agents have searched one coach's locker at the university's basketball center.

U.S. Secret Service agents searched the locker Wednesday.

The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it's an ongoing investigation, says only one locker was searched.

Agents searched Fine's office Tuesday and his home last Friday.

Three men, including two former ball boys for the team, say Fine molested them as minors.

Fine has denied the allegations.

Court documents show the third warrant was issued Tuesday and signed by U.S. Magistrate Andrew Baxter. Prosecutors did not immediately return calls.

Fine's office on campus was searched Tuesday morning, and his suburban home was searched Nov. 25. The U.S. Attorney's office in northern New York, which is leading the investigation, has not said what it sought or found.

Also Thursday, Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor said the school decided to fire Fine upon hearing an audiotape recorded by Bobby Davis, one of Fine's three accusers. ESPN broadcast the 2002 audiotape, recorded by Davis, of a conversation between Davis and a woman ESPN identified as Fine's wife, Laurie, in which she says she knew "everything that went on."

Cantor's comments were in a published response to a USA Today editorial Thursday that calls on Syracuse to release a "full accounting" of what it did and why Fine was kept on the job.

Fine, who has denied the allegations, was fired Sunday.

Federal authorities are not constrained by a statute of limitations, should they turn up evidence Fine molested his latest accuser, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine. He said he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room after a game. He said Fine touched him "multiple" times in that one incident.

Under federal law in 2002, prosecutions for the sexual or physical abuse or kidnapping of a child under 18 could continue until the victim turned 25. Subsequent amendments changed that to the life of the child or 10 years after the offense, whichever is longer.

Fine
Fine

As the investigation continues, advocates for sex abuse victims have said Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim should resign or be fired for adamantly defending Fine and verbally disparaging the accusers.

Contacted by The Associated Press by phone Wednesday, Boeheim repeated several times, "I can't talk about anything." He's preparing Syracuse (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) for Friday's home game against Florida (No. 9, No. 10) and is scheduled to do his regular radio show Thursday night.

University trustees have been instructed to refer all questions back to the university, but some contacted by The Associated Press offered support for Boeheim and said there was no indication his job was in danger.

"I have not heard anything but complete support for coach Boeheim," trustee Michael Wohl said. "Coach Boeheim hasn't done anything wrong. At this point, we're completely behind the coach."

Boeheim also is the top assistant under Mike Krzyzewski on the United States national team coaching staff, but Jerry Colangelo, the chair of USA Basketball's board of directors, said Boeheim is not in jeopardy of losing that role. The Olympic team will participate in the 2012 London Games.

"I am following the story just as everyone else is," Colangelo told ESPN.com's Andy Katz. "He's a personal friend and a terrific individual. He's part of USA Basketball and from what I know at this point, I think he'll be fine. The university is standing behind him. It has no impact on USA Basketball. We'll continue to monitor everything coming down the pike here."

The USOC declined comment, though a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the federation is following the issue.

Davis first contacted Syracuse police in 2002 regarding Fine, but there was no investigation because the state statute of limitations had passed. In 2005, Davis went to the university, which did its own investigation, but the school said the accusations could not be corroborated.

Davis, now 39, told ESPN's "Outside The Lines" last month that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was about 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis said the abuse occurred at Fine's 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 "Outside The Lines" that Fine began molesting him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade.

Repeated attempts to reach Davis and Lang have been unsuccessful.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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