Sunday, November 27, 2011
Bernie Fine has third accuser
ESPN.com news services
Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine, accused by two middle-aged men of sexual abuse they say started in the 1970s and '80s when they were ball boys, is facing allegations from a third, much-younger man who says Fine molested him in 2002 when he was 13.
Zach Tomaselli, 23, says Fine molested him at a Pittsburgh hotel room the night before a Syracuse game against Pitt, the The Post-Standard of Syracuse has reported.
Tomaselli, a resident of of Lewiston, Maine, who grew up 78 miles north of Syracuse, told the newspaper he was interviewed by Syracuse police for more than four hours in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, when he also signed an affidavit that a source told the newspaper resulted in a search warrant being issued and carried out at Fine's home Friday.
Tomaselli is facing sexual-assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, the report said. His estranged father, Fred Tomaselli, told the paper his son is a liar and that the allegations aren't true, saying he has never met Fine nor had he allowed Zach to travel to Pittsburgh with the Syracuse team in 2002. Tomaselli's father also denied his son had attended a party at Fine's house in 2003, The Post-Standard reported.
A third sexual-abuse accusation of Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine resulted in a search of his home by police Friday, The Post-Standard has reported.
Tomaselli told the newspaper he didn't have physical evidence to support the accusations and that no one had been witness to the alleged abuse.
In a statement released Sunday, Fine's attorneys, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, said he would not comment "beyond his initial statement."
"Any comment from him would only invite and perpetuate ancient and suspect claims," the statement said.
"Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities."
Police who performed the search had on Friday declined to comment on the purpose of their search.
In the affidavit, Tomaselli describes the inside of Fine's house, details gleaned during a 2003 party after another Orange game, according to the newspaper, which cited a friend of
Tomaselli who said she was present during the police's interview with him at a hotel room.
Rose Ryan also said she provided police with a signed statement saying Tomaselli had told her two years ago Fine molested him in 2002.
Tomaselli first spoke with police Monday before writing of the allegations on his Facebook page.
"I wanted to announce this to encourage all sex abuse victims to come forward as tough as it is because we can stop other kids from this abuse," Tomaselli wrote, according to The Post-Standard.
Tomaselli, who was arrested in April on an indictment warrant, faces charges of 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, the newspaper reported. He has pleaded not guilty. The charges stem from Tomaselli's tenure as a camp counselor, during which he is accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old.
On Friday, the 65-year-old Fine watched as authorities conducted the search, which started at about 1:45 p.m. ET and lasted until 9 p.m. ET. The Post-Standard reported that three filing cabinets were taken away and officers from the U.S. Secret Service were part of the search team, in addition to the Syracuse police.
Two former ball boys for the Syracuse basketball team, Bobby Davis, 39, and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, who is 45, have also said they were molested -- more than 25 years ago -- by Fine, who is on paid administrative leave from the university. Fine has called the allegations "patently false."
Syracuse spokesman Pete Moore told ESPN.com on Sunday morning that coach Jim Boeheim, "is not commenting further on the subject at this time."
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.
"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 didn't ask Syracuse police or federal authorities for help in getting the criminal charges dismissed against him in Maine.
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 Tomaselli's parents to arrange for Tomaselli to go to Pittsburgh with the athletic department staff on a chartered bus, spend the night in Fine's hotel room and attend the team's 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: "I'm 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."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.