DA: 2 Syracuse Accusers Credible But Statute of Limitations Has Passed - NBC New York

DA: 2 Syracuse Accusers Credible But Statute of Limitations Has Passed

Prosecutor says he cannot bring state charges.



    DA: 2 Syracuse Accusers Credible But Statute of Limitations Has Passed
    It was reported last month that police were investigating Bernie Fine on allegations of child molestation. A DA said Wednesday he could not bring state charges in the case.

    A prosecutor says he cannot bring charges against a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach but finds that two men who accused him of sexual abuse are credible.

    A federal probe is ongoing into the accusations against fired coach Bernie Fine, but Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says he won't pursue a state case, noting the statute of limitations has passed.

    "These two victims are believable," Fitzpatrick said.

    Three men, including two former ballboys for the team, have accused Fine of molesting them at his home, on the road with the team or in team facilities when they were boys. Fitzpatrick said the third man's allegations don't relate to Onondaga County.

    The 65-year-old Fine has adamantly denied wrongdoing. He was fired after the three men made public accusations and ESPN played a 2002 recording of a phone call in which a woman ESPN identified as his wife tells an accuser she knew "everything that went on."

    Also Wednesday, the DA gave federal investigators records that may call into question the story of the third accuser.

    Fine's lawyers say the school records for Zach Tomaselli and travel records for the basketball team appear to prove Tomaselli fabricated his claim that Fine abused him in January 2002 at a hotel when the team played in Pittsburgh.

    Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that he has turned over to federal investigators evidence that could be considered "exculpatory," which is evidence that helps a defendant.

    Tomaselli, 23, is one of three men who accuse Fine of molesting them when they were boys. Tomaselli's claims are the only ones among the three that are eligible for prosecution within the statute of limitations.

    "It appears now that there is proof that Tomaselli fabricated this allegation," Fine's lawyers, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, said in a joint statement, their first since early on in the three-week-old scandal. "The incredible damage that Tomaselli has inflicted on Mr. Fine cannot be overstated."

    Tomaselli's phone rang unanswered Wednesday.

    The accusations against Fine once appeared to threaten the job of Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, who has said he is unaware of any abuses happening during his tenure.

    Boeheim at first vehemently defended his longtime friend and assistant and said the accusations were lies to make money in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal. He later backtracked and said he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers.