Bernie Fine accuser doctored emails

Updated: January 21, 2012, 7:31 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The third man to accuse Bernie Fine of molestation stands by the allegation but will ask police to end its investigation of the former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, has told the The Post-Standard of Syracuse that he doctored emails and repeatedly lied to authorities in an effort to tip the scale of evidence against Fine.

"I'm just guna ask the police to drop the investigation on Fine. I'm sick of this. I have a couple weeks left to live. I want to be left alone," wrote Tomaselli in a text to The Post-Standard, referring to a pending prison term.

The newspaper reported additionally on its website Friday afternoon that Tomaselli, speaking earlier during an interview in a Houston hotel room, admitted he doctored an email from Syracuse police to persuade reporters that police believed him.

Last month, Tomaselli pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a teenage boy in an agreement that capped his sentence at just over three years in prison.

Tomaselli pleaded guilty to gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and two other sex-related counts, while seven other counts were dropped.

A plea agreement calls for a 12-year sentence, but the bulk of that will be suspended, limiting the judge to a maximum penalty of 3 years and 3 months. Tomaselli is free on bail pending sentencing in February.

Tomaselli, who says Fine molested him in a hotel room in Pittsburgh in 2002, is one of four men to level sexual abuse accusations against Fine. Two former ballboys in the 1980s and a man who's now in prison also said Fine molested them.

Fine has denied wrongdoing but was fired by the upstate New York university.

The fourth accuser, Floyd VanHooser, a 56-year-old New York prison inmate, has said he made up his claim because he wanted to get back at the coach after Fine did not hire a lawyer to help him fight a criminal conviction.

Fine had helped raise VanHooser after his parents died.

Tomaselli initially pleaded not guilty but later admitted that he sexually abused the boy in Maine when the victim was 13 and 14 years old. Tomaselli worked as a counselor at a camp the boy attended.

After counseling, Tomaselli said he understands that he was grooming the boy for a relationship. He said he intends to get help.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.