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US Attorney: Bernie Fine will not be charged

The US Attorney's Office on Friday announced that Bernie Fine will not be charged with a crime after a year-long investigation into sexual abuse allegations against the former Syracuse University men's basketball assistant coach.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The US Attorney's Office on Friday announced that Bernie Fine will not be charged with a crime after a year-long investigation into sexual abuse allegations against the former Syracuse University men's basketball assistant coach.

One year ago, the US Attorney’s Office began investigating Fine after two former Syracuse University ball boys said he sexually abused them when they were minors.

The statute of limitations on charges leveled by the two ball boys – Bobby Davis and Mike Lang – had passed.

The US Attorney’s Office says there was insufficient evidence against Fine to pursue Federal criminal charges. They subsequently closed their investigation.

They also noted, however, that Fine has not been cleared of any wrongdoing, but that they could not find sufficient evidence that could lead to a conviction.

Prosecutors said they interviewed around 130 witnesses and reviewed more than 100,000 pages of documents during their investigation.

They said they were aided by several local law-enforcement agencies and that Syracuse University cooperated with their investigation.

Syracuse University acknowledged that it cooperated with the investigation. A spokesperson also said the school made the correct decision when it fired Fine.

"I can tell you we cooperated and we appreciate the extensive work the U.S. Attorney and his staff did over these past months," said SU Vice President of Public Affairs Kevin Quinn. "The decision last November regarding Mr. Fine’s employment was the appropriate step to take and it was made in the best interest of the University."

Fine was fired from his position on the SU men’s basketball staff the day that ESPN aired a telephone conversation recorded by Davis in which Fine’s wife suggests that she was aware of an inappropriate relationship between the two.

Laurie Fine filed a lawsuit against ESPN claiming the recording had been manipulated and was misleading. In May, she announced that she had filed a lawsuit against the sports network and reporter Mark Schwartz for libel.

In addition to Davis and Lang, two other men emerged to accuse Fine of sexually abusing them as boys. Floyd VanHooser, a convicted felon, later admitted that his accusations were lies.

Zach Tomaselli claimed Fine molested him in a hotel in Pittsburgh in 2002. Tomaselli, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy in Maine, has reversed his story several times and later admitted he fabricated the allegations.

Bernie Fine has denied all of the accusations against him.

In a statement released Friday morning, Fine's lawyers - Karl Sleight, Donald Martin and David Botsford - said, "The damage inflicted upon Bernie and his family is simply immeasurable."

The statement goes on to say that Fine "hopes and prays that the lesson learned and remembered is that a rush to judgment has irreversible consequences."

Attorney Gloria Allred has represented Davis and Lang in their defamation lawsuits against Syracuse University men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim along with the school.

Allred issued a statement stressing that the US Attorney’s investigation did not exonerate Fine.

“The DOJ's decision does not indicate that there is or is not merit to the allegations against Mr. Fine and it does not vindicate him,” Allred and another attorney, Mariann Wang, said in an email. “To the contrary, many individuals in both in state and federal law enforcement have stated repeatedly that they believe Bobby Davis was credible when he reported his allegations of sexual abuse by Bernie Fine.”

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has said that Davis is a "credible victim," but that the case cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has passed.

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