Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine is being investigated on allegations of child molestation, according to the Syracuse Police Department.
“We are in the very early stages of an investigation,” Syracuse Police Sgt. Tom Connellan told The Post-Standard. “Information was brought to us (Thursday).”
Fine was placed on administrative leave Thursday night.
Police wouldn’t provide details about the investigation, but ESPN is reporting that Fine is accused of molesting a former Syracuse University ball boy, who is now 39 years old.
The alleged victim, Bobby Davis, told ESPN that Fine molested him starting in 1983 shortly before Davis entered the seventh grade.
Davis was the team’s ball boy for six years beginning in 1984. He said the abuse occurred at Fine’s home, at the Syracuse basketball facilities, and on road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.
In addition, a second man, Davis’ relative, told ESPN that he was molested by Fine around the same time.
Fine is now in his 35th season as assistant head coach to Jim Boeheim. Davis said he never told Boeheim about the alleged abuse.
Kevin Quinn, Syracuse’s senior vice president for public affairs, issued a statement on behalf of the school:
“In light of the new allegations and the Syracuse City Police investigation, this evening Chancellor Cantor asked Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross, to place Associate Head Coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave.”
Quinn provided more details:
“In 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men’s basketball coach. The alleged activity took place in the 1980′s and 1990′s. We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired,” Quinn said.
“On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations,” he added.
“Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associated coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community,” Quinn said.
Boeheim threw his support behind Fine:
“This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded,” Boeheim said.
“I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would (have) been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.”
It’s important to note that Fine has not been charged with any crime and the case could either grow stronger, or even fall apart, as police follow the trail of evidence.
The timing of the news is especially interesting in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case at Penn State.