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Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Source: Feds search Bernie Fine's office

ESPN.com news services

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Federal agents have searched the campus office of former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine as part of the investigation of child molestation allegations against him, a source familiar with the investigation told ESPN enterprise reporter Mark Schwarz.

The search of Fine's office at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, which involved both the United States Attorney's Office and the U.S. Secret Service, was executed in the early-morning hours, and likely was triggered by the allegations of 23-year-old Zachary Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine, a source said.

The U.S. Secret Service already searched Fine's house last Friday. Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's office in northern New York, which is leading the investigation, would not say what they sought or found there, saying it was under seal. The warrant approving the search of his office also was sealed.

Tomaselli alleges that Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in January 2002 and has given a sworn affidavit to Syracuse police. Tomaselli told ESPN that he spoke with detectives from the Pittsburgh police department Wednesday morning.

He says Fine showed him pornography and molested him in Pittsburgh in 2002, after inviting Tomaselli, who was 13 at the time, to travel to the city for a Syracuse basketball game.

On Anderson Cooper's afternoon talk show on CBS Wednesday, Tomaselli said he has offered to take a lie detector test, has cooperated with investigators and that there is outside evidence to corroborate his story. He declined to describe the evidence.

Tomaselli faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy. Tomaselli's father, meanwhile, maintains his son is lying about allegations against Fine.

Fine was fired Sunday after a 10-year-old voice recording of his wife, Laurie, emerged in which she acknowledges her husband allegedly sexually abused a Syracuse ball boy in their home, and after Tomaselli's accusation came to light.

The ball boy, Bobby Davis, has told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was about 27 years old.

On Sunday, "Outside the Lines" reported that Laurie Fine admitted in a tape-recorded October 2002 phone conversation that she had worries that her husband had sexually molested team Davis in their home, but said she felt powerless to stop the alleged abuse.

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."

On Tuesday afternoon, asked to comment on Boeheim's status Tuesday afternoon, Syracuse University chancellor Nancy Cantor said: "Coach Boeheim is our coach."

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," said trustee Michael Wohl. "Coach Boeheim hasn't done anything wrong. At this point, we're completely behind the coach."

University spokesman Kevin Quinn said it's policy to refer all comment to the university during an ongoing investigation, and most of the 70 active trustees contacted by the AP did that.

"I personally stand with our chancellor Nancy Cantor that he's our coach," Reinaldo Pascual said. He declined further comment.

Boeheim himself addressed the topic after Tuesday night's win over Eastern Michigan.

"I never worried about my job status in 36 years," Boeheim said at his first postgame news conference since Fine was fired. "I do my job. What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch."

Davis first contacted Syracuse police in 2002 regarding Fine, but there was no investigation because the 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.

On Nov. 17, Davis' allegations resurfaced.

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 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 ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade.

Repeated attempts to reach Davis and Lang have been unsuccessful.

Ex-Syracuse basketball star and current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing told the AP on Wednesday that when he called Fine about the allegations earlier this month, Fine told him "absolutely not."

Bing said that at the time, he accepted Fine's answer but now wants to let it "play out and see where the truth is."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.