Zach Tomaselli claims sexual abuse

Updated: April 19, 2012, 1:43 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Zach Tomaselli, just five days after saying he had been lying the past few months about his claims that former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine sexually abused him as a child, said Wednesday he was indeed abused by Fine.

Tomaselli released a statement on Wednesday in direct contradiction to his previous comments to Syracuse local media last Friday.

[+] EnlargeZach Tomaselli
AP Photo/Robert F. BukatyZach Tomaselli, above, again changed his story Wednesday, stating that Bernie Fine did abuse him as a child.

"Yes, my credibility with the media is shot but I am not going to give up now," Tomaselli said in a statement. "Bernie molested me. PERIOD."

Tomaselli said he was upset at what he called negative coverage by the media.

Tomaselli, who pleaded guilty to molesting a boy when the victim was 13 and 14 years old, was sentenced to three years and three months and reported to prison Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Tomaselli thrust himself into the news in November when he made accusations against Fine after two former ball boys accused Fine of molesting them.

Last week, Tomaselli announced that he was a liar who'd never even met Fine. Days later, he said he'd had a "complete psychiatric breakdown" when he recanted.

Fine, who was fired, has not been charged and has denied the abuse claims.

"It has become a burden of a lie and I am sick of it," Tomaselli said in an email to Syracuse website CNYCentral.com last week. "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 last 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 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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