Bernie Fine, the Syracuse University basketball coach accused of sex abuse has been fired after damning new evidence suggested his wife watched him molest a boy who was staying at their house.
Laurie Fine, the wife of Syracuse University coach, allegedly told one of her husband’s three accusers in a recorded phone call that she suspected he had done the same to other boys – but that she never did anything to stop it.
Laurie Fine is also said to have revealed that she slept with one of the victims, once he turned 18 – as it emerged that the tapes had been in the hands of police and ESPN for nearly ten years and no action was taken.
One of the alleged victims Bobby Davis, now 39, says he secretly taped the conversation in 2002 in an effort to collect proof that the longtime college basketball coach Bernie Fine, now 65, had abused him, starting when he was 12 years old.
“I know everything that went on, you know,” Laurie Fine says on tapes played by ESPN’s Outside the Line program.
“I know everything that went on with him. Bernie has issues, maybe that he’s not aware of, but he has issues. And you trusted somebody you shouldn’t have trusted.”
Bernie Fine has denied the allegations as “patently false”. However, Syracuse University today fired Bernie Fine after putting him on administrative leave earlier this month.
“At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately,” said Kevin Quinn, the school’s senior vice president for public affairs.
Authorities have said if any crimes were committed, they are likely beyond the statute of limitation and no prosecutions can be made.
The phone conversation was verified by a voice-recognition analyst hired by ESPN.
Laurie Fine talks about the alleged abuse against Bobby Davis in a matter-of-fact tone and suggests she has known about it for many years.
“But you never had any [sex act] with him?” Laurie Fine asks Bobby Davis, who is an adult at the time of the phone call.
“No,” Bobby Davis says.
“I think he wanted to, but…”
Laurie Fine says: “Oh, of course he would! Why wouldn’t he?”
Bobby Davis lived with the Fines in the basement of their house on and off throughout his childhood. He says Bernie Fine began abusing him in 1984 when he was just 12 years old and in seventh grade.
Bobby Davis says Laurie Fine always knew something was going on and even caught her husband touching him when she peered through the blinds one night as she pretended to take out the trash.
It wasn’t until that incident, when Bobby Davis was in high school but still a minor, that Laurie Fine approached him and told him to stand up for himself. However, she never called police.
In the conversation, Laurie Fine seems to accept that her husband has predilections for boys and that there is nothing she can do about it.
“You know what, <<Go to a place where there are gay boys. Find yourself a gay boy>>,” Laurie Fine says.
“<<Get your rocks off, and have it be over with>>. He needs that male companionship that I can’t give him.”
Laurie Fine explains that her husband is no longer interested in her sexually, instead preferring boys. And she isn’t interested in him, either, she says.
This could explain why she also became sexually involved with Bobby Davis. In the tape Laurie Fine confirms that she had sex with the former Syracuse University ball boy when he was 18 and a high school senior.
But she claims she couldn’t help Bobby Davis when he was younger.
“Because I care about you, and I didn’t want to see you being treated that way,” she says.
“And, it’s hard. If it was another girl… it would be easy to step in because you know what you’re up against. If it’s another guy, you can’t compete with that. It’s just wrong, and you were a kid. You’re a man now, but you were a kid then.”
If the allegations Bobby Davis are making prove true, Laurie Fine did nothing to stop the abuse while it occurred.
But she wasn’t the only one who didn’t step in to help Bobby Davis. He reported the incident to Syracuse police in 2002 and turned over the tapes when the detective said he needed proof.
But police apparently never investigated any farther.
In 2003, Bobby Davis turned the tapes over to ESPN, but the sports network never did anything then because reporters couldn’t find “anyone else to corroborate the story”.
Bobby Davis and his step-brother Mike Lang have both accused Bernie Fine of abusing them when they were ball boys for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team.
A third man, Zach Tomaselli, now 24, says Bernie Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hotel room in 2002.
However, Zach Tomaselli is currently facing sex abuse charges of his own in Maine and his own father has told news media that he is lying.
But federal agents found Zach Tomaselli’s statements compelling enough to raid Bernie Fine’s home in upstate New York on Friday, carrying away his trash as well as filing cabinets.
Zach Tomaselli said the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky – accused of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period – prompted him to come forward.
“It was the Sandusky stuff that really made me think about it,” Zach Tomaselli said.
“A lot of people were slamming ESPN and Bobby for saying anything. I wanted to come out.”
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim said he supported the decision to fire his longtime assistant and expressed regret for his initial statements that might have been “insensitive to victims of abuse”.
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged,” Jim Boeheim said.
“I believe the university took the appropriate step,” he added, saying the matter must be ‘fully investigated” and anyone with information should be “supported to come forward” to tell the truth.
“I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse,” Jim Boeheim said.