Syracuse Fires Assistant Coach Bernie Fine Over Sexual Assault Allegations

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Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine was fired on Sunday, a little over a week after his boss Jim Boeheim vehemently defended him from accusations that he sexually abused two young boys. The move came after a third accuser stepped forward and the revelation of an incriminating phone conversation involving Fine's wife, in which she appeared to confirm that he had abused one of the boys.

ESPN reported last week that Fine, who has been an assistant at Syracuse for more than 30 years, had been accused by two former team ball boys (now in their forties) of sexually assaulting them during the 1980s. The University acknowledged that they were aware of the claims and that their own internal investigation in 2005 had turned up no evidence. Then on Sunday, a third man cam forward to say that he was molested by Fine in 2002. The latest allegations are complicated by the fact that the newest accuser has himself been charged with sexually assaulting a teenager in Maine and his own father says that he is lying.

What truly damaged Fine's case, however, is a phone conversation between one of the original accusers, Bobby Davis, and Fine's wife, Laurie, that ESPN obtained and broadcast on Sunday. During the call, Laurie Fine appears to confirm Davis' claims and admits that her husband "has issues" with young boys.

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Syracuse's chancellor, Nancy Cantor, released a statement saying that the school was not aware of the phone call when they conducted their own investigation in 2005, but that in light of the new evidence they decided to fire Fine, effective immediately.

Unlike the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, officials at Syracuse have handled the case admirably, with the exception of Boeheim, who lashed out at the initial accusers, calling them liars and saying that were simply looking for money and attention. Boeheim was forced to apologize on Sunday, saying that he never witnessed any bad behavior by Fine, but that "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.