Zach Tomaselli, one of the men who accused former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of child sexual abuse, says he has been lying the past few months and was not abused by Fine.
"It has become a burden of a lie and I am sick of it," Tomaselli said in a email to Syracuse website CNYCentral.com. "Bobby Davis told me what to tell detectives and it pretty much took off from there. The evidence that supports me is just pure luck, not real evidence. I made the ENTIRE thing up. I have never met Bernie in my life."
Davis, a ball boy for Syracuse teams in the 1980s, and his stepbrother Mike Lang have accused Fine of molesting them during the 1980s and '90s.
Davis spoke with ESPN's Mark Schwarz on Friday and denied telling Tomaselli details of his alleged interactions with Fine.
"I never said anything like that at all to the kid," Davis told ESPN. "I just spoke to him a couple minutes. There were like two phone calls between us and they lasted a total of three to four minutes.
"It was very short," Davis said of their conversations. "I asked him all the questions. I asked him to describe Bernie's house, to describe the arena, to name the players on the team at that time. He kept changing his story with me. He couldn't name the players, couldn't describe the house. I said, 'You just need to call the police.' I called back and asked him if he called the police and he said, 'No one answered.' I said, 'No one answered?' "
In a phone interview with CNYCentral, Tomaselli said "It was a game to me. It was fun trying to make this story come alive." By email, Tomaselli went on, "I NEVER met Bernie fine or went to an autograph session. I sat in the nosebleeds at the Pitt game at the (Carrier) Dome in '03 but that is it. I lied."
As for why he misled the authorities, prosecutors, the media and the public at large for so long, Tomaselli wrote to CNYCentral, "I don't have feelings most of the time. I just hate people without caring," adding that he was motivated by a strong dislike for the Syracuse basketball program because it beat his favorite team, Kansas, in the 2003 NCAA championship game.
Tomaselli, 23, was sentenced Wednesday to three years and three months in prison for sexually abusing a teen at a summer camp in Maine. He begins his prison term next week.
Davis told ESPN that he didn't want to question Tomaselli, "but in the short time we spoke what he said is not like anything I know of Bernie, but I'm not in position to question anybody. The senators I have spoken with say that there is quite a bit of false reporting and I have always thought you could prove if somebody is lying or telling the truth."
Davis and Lang are suing Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim after Boeheim contested their claims they were abused by Fine. According to the men's lawyers, Boeheim not only defamed the two former ball boys but he also helped intimidate other people from coming forward when he called the men opportunistic liars for accusing Fine of abuse.
The lawyers made the arguments in court papers filed Wednesday, opposing motions by Boeheim and the university to dismiss the lawsuit.