Bloomberg News

Ex-Syracuse Coach Bernie Fine Sued Over Sex Abuse Claims

December 08, 2011

(Updates with calls to attorneys in seventh paragraph.)

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Former Syracuse University assistant men’s basketball coach Bernie Fine was sued by a man alleging he was sexually abused as a 13-year-old in a Pittsburgh hotel room.

Zach Tomaselli, who emerged in recent weeks as the third person to accuse Fine of sexual abuse, filed the civil lawsuit today in Pennsylvania state court in Pittsburgh. Fine is named in the case as the sole defendant.

Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, accused of child sexual abuse in another case, posted $250,000 bail this morning, allowing him to be released later today and confined to his home with electronic monitoring, according to the court and his attorney, Joseph Amendola.

Syracuse fired Fine, in his 36th season at the school, on Nov. 27 after he was accused of sexually abusing two former ball boys. At a press conference yesterday, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick in Syracuse said Fine won’t face charges related to those allegations because the claims are barred by the statute of limitations and are too old for prosecution.

Contacted Police

The two former ball boys were the first to accuse Fine of molesting them. Bobby Davis, now 39, contacted police in 2002 and said Fine abused him when he was in seventh grade. Davis’s stepbrother Mike Lang, now 45, made his allegations this year, saying he was abused by Fine when he was in fifth or sixth grade, according to Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN.

Tomaselli said last month that his desire to support Fine’s other accusers prompted him to come forward with accusations that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. Federal authorities are investigating those allegations and evidence related to the case will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney and defense lawyers, Fitzpatrick said yesterday.

Fine’s attorneys, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the complaint. In a statement yesterday, the lawyers said they were looking forward to reviewing “exculpatory materials” in the case as it appeared that there is proof Tomaselli fabricated the allegation.

Tomaselli is facing sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, the Associated Press reported. He told the Associated Press he plans to plead guilty in that case. Justin Leary, an attorney for Tomaselli in the Maine case, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

In the Sandusky case, he posted bail with $200,000 in real estate and $50,000 in a certified check from his wife Dorothy, according to the records.

The case is Tomaselli v. Fine, 11-025439, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas (Pittsburgh).

--Editors: Mary Romano, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporters on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at spearson3@bloomberg.net; Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware at pmilford@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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