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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Lawyers: Tomaselli story 'fabricated'

ESPN.com news services

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has given federal investigators records that may call into question the story of one of three men who have accused ex-Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexually abusing them when they were boys.

Fine's lawyers say the school records for Zach Tomaselli and travel records for the basketball team appear to prove Tomaselli fabricated his claim that Fine abused him in January 2002 at a hotel when the team played in Pittsburgh.

Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that he has turned over to federal investigators evidence that could be considered "exculpatory," which is evidence that helps a defendant.

Tomaselli, 23, is one of three men who accuse Fine of molesting them when they were boys. Tomaselli's claims are the only ones among the three that are eligible for prosecution within the statute of limitations.

"It appears now that there is proof that Tomaselli fabricated this allegation," Fine's lawyers, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, said in a joint statement, their first since early on in the three-week-old scandal. "The incredible damage that Tomaselli has inflicted on Mr. Fine cannot be overstated."

Tomaselli's phone rang unanswered Wednesday.

Fitzpatrick said two other accusers -- Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Michael Lang -- were found to be credible but their claims happened too long ago to be prosecuted.

Fine was fired after the three men made public accusations and ESPN's "Outside The Lines" played a 2002 recording of a phone call in which a woman ESPN identified as his wife tells an accuser she knew "everything that went on."

Tomaselli's claims fall within federal statutes of limitations and are being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

Investigators searched Fine's home, office and school locker, looking for pornography that could be used "to sexually arouse or groom young males" to have sex, court records say. The investigators took computers, cameras, disks and records, among other things. They're also looking for any records that would detail Fine's contact with boys.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.