Sunday, November 27, 2011
Bernie Fine's wife had abuse concerns
By Mark Schwarz and Arty Berko ESPN
In a tape-recorded 2002 telephone conversation, the wife of Syracuse associate head coach Bernie Fine admitted she had concerns that her husband had sexually molested a team ball boy in their home, but said she felt powerless to stop the alleged abuse.
Bobby Davis, who has publicly accused Bernie Fine of years of molestation that Davis said started when he was in the seventh grade, legally recorded his Oct. 8, 2002, phone call to Laurie Fine.
"I know everything that went on, you know," Laurie Fine said on the call, obtained by Outside the Lines from Davis. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted ... "
She continued: "Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind."
ESPN has tried to reach Laurie and Bernie Fine for comment at their home and through Bernie Fine's attorney for the past week and a half. Neither the Fines nor Bernie Fine's attorney have responded.
"I know everything that went on," Bernie Fine's wife, Laurie, said on a 2002 call to one of his accusers, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN's "Outside The Lines".
After "Outside the Lines" first reported the allegations against Fine on Nov. 17, the now-39-year-old Davis shared the tape with Syracuse police, one of several law-enforcement agencies who have opened an investigation into the case. Davis first gave the tape to ESPN in 2003. At the time, ESPN did not report Davis' accusations, or report the contents of the tape, because no one else would corroborate his story.
After a second man said this month that he was also molested by Fine (that man is Mike Lang, Davis' step brother), ESPN hired a voice-recognition expert who said the voice on the tape matches the voice of Laurie Fine. The call was made and received in states that don't require both parties to consent to a call being recorded.
Davis, who has said he frequently slept over at the Fine household in their basement as a boy and teenager, said he made the recording of his call to Laurie Fine because he knew he needed proof for the police and the public to believe his allegations against Bernie Fine, who has served 35 years under Hall of Fame Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. After Davis' claims, Fine was put on administrative leave.
"Laurie was a person I talked to a lot about this situation as I got older," Davis said in an interview with ESPN. "And she was there a lot of the times, and had seen a lot of the things that were going on when Bernie would come down to the basement in his house at night."
On the tape, Davis repeatedly asked Laurie Fine about what she knew of the alleged molestation.
"Do you think I'm the only one that he's ever done that to?" Davis asked.
"No ... I think there might have been others but it was geared to ... there was something about you," Laurie Fine said.
"Yeah, that's what I'm wondering," Davis said. "Like I'm wondering why I was like the worst one."
"I don't know," Fine said.
Laurie Fine and Davis also discussed what sexual acts Bernie Fine and Davis engaged in. In the discussion, Davis said Bernie Fine touched him inappropriately, but denied that they ever engaged in oral sex.
Later in the call, Fine tells Davis that she wanted to come to his defense but she just wasn't capable of it.
"Because I care about you, and I didn't want to see you being treated that way ... ," Fine said.
"Yeah," said Davis.
"And, it's hard ... " Fine said. "If it was another girl like I told you, it would be easy to step in because you know what you're up against. ... (When) it's another guy, you can't compete with that. It's just wrong, and you were a kid. You're a man now, but you were a kid then."
At another point in the call, Fine says of her husband: "You know, he needs ... that male companionship that I can't give him, nor is he interested in me, and vice versa."
During the phone call, Davis told Laurie Fine that when he was about 27 years old in the late 1990s, he asked her husband for $5,000 to help pay off his student loans.
"When he gave you the money, what does he want for that? He wants you to grab him or he wanted to do you?" she asked.
"He wanted to do me. He wanted me to touch him, too. He tried to make me touch him a couple of times. He'd grab my hand, and then I'd pull away, and then he'd put me in your bed, and then you know, put me down, and I'd try to go away, and he'd put his arm on top of my chest. He goes, 'If you want this money, you'll stay right here,' " Davis said.
"Right. Right ... ," Laurie Fine said. "He just has a nasty attitude, because he didn't get his money, nor did he get what he wanted. He didn't get ... "
Davis interrupted her at that point and said, "It's not about the money." To which Laurie Fine replied, "It's about the d---. I know that. So you're -- I'm just telling you for your own good, you're better off just staying away from him."
Later, Laurie Fine admitted to having a relationship with Davis. In the interview with ESPN, Davis said that occurred when he was 18 and a senior in high school. Davis said he told Bernie Fine about it, but Fine seemed unaffected. "I thought he was gonna kill me, but I had to tell him," Davis said in the interview with ESPN. "I felt so bad. I told him about it -- what was going on with me and Laurie -- and it didn't faze him one bit honestly."
On the call, Laurie Fine told Davis she'd already warned her husband that one day his alleged molestation of Davis might become public.
"I said to him, 'Bobby and I talked, and I know some things about you that if you keep pushing are going to be let out.' "
Davis continued: "He doesn't think he can be touched ... "
Laurie Fine: "No ... he thinks he's above the law."
Mark Schwarz is a reporter for ESPN's enterprise unit. Arty Berko is a producer.