Sex Scandal Erupts at Syracuse University – Updated

This morning there was an article in the local paper about Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor advising students and faculty to act if they witness child abuse. The advisory was prompted by the Penn State scandal. Tonight, Syracuse University is dealing with a sex scandal of its own, according to ESPN, involving the basketball program. Bernie Fine, the assistant coach, has been accused by two men of abusing them when they were children. There are no indications that head coach Jim Boeheim was involved or was informed of the alleged abuse.

The alleged victim, Bobby Davis, now 39, told Outside the Lines that Fine molested him beginning in 1983 shortly before Davis entered the seventh grade. Davis, the team’s ball boy for six years beginning in 1984, 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 — a relative of Davis — told OTL that he was also molested by Fine around the same time as the first boy.

Fine is now in his 35th season as an assistant to head coach Jim Boeheim.

Davis said he never told Boeheim about the alleged abuse.

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Davis said that Fine molested him at Fine’s home, at the basketball facilities at Syracuse, on recruiting road trips and even at the 1987 Final Four. Davis said he was Fine’s constant companion at all those places. He said that Boeheim would come into Fine’s room, and see Davis lying on the Fine’s bed, but never asked him any questions.

Davis said he was molested by Fine until he was around 27 years old. Through the years, he said he has felt bitter emotions over the molestation as sex scandals have emerged in the Catholic Church and lately with former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. (Read More)

The article goes on to note that Davis reported the abuse to a detective in 2003, but was told that the statute of limitations had run out. It also indicates that they investigated these allegations in 2003, but did not report the story because there were no corroborating witnesses.

The Syracuse Post Standard investigated these allegations in 2003, but like ESPN, did not report it for the same reason.

Local news outlets don’t seem to know much more than what was reported by ESPN. CNY Central confirmed that there is an investigation, but there are no more details.

An SU fan message board has reaction to this news by the fans. The Bleacher Report reminds us that this is only an investigation at this point. There’s no grand jury report, and other than the relative of Davis coming forward there doesn’t appear to be any other evidence against Fine. But, the detective who took the report in 2003 was a former SU player.

As far as the abuse continuing until the age of 27, that sounds pretty far-fetched to anyone who hasn’t been the victim of abuse. Without more information I would withhold judgment.

I don’t know much about Fine, but I can’t see Boeheim covering up the abuse of a child. I don’t know him personally, but he lives in my town and our paths have crossed here and there. If anything, I’d say if this is true and it was happening right under his nose, he was probably so focused on the game that he didn’t notice anything else. Either way, this is a sad day for the Syracuse Community.

In case anyone is wondering about Nancy Cantor’s involvement, she wasn’t Chancellor at the time.

Update: If this is true, then it’s no better than what Sandusky did to those boys in Pennsylvania. At this point, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence, and other than the relative of the accuser, no witnesses. I’m sure we’ll find out more in the coming days.

Update 2: The Post Standard reported that Fine has been placed on administrative leave. Also, Coach Boeheim is defending Fine:

“This matter was fully investigated by the University in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.”

Be sure to follow that last link, the University released a statement indicating a thorough investigation was conducted in 2005. The statement indicates that the witnesses Mr. Davis said would support his allegations denied having any knowledge of any abuse.

Update 3: Scared Monkeys linked.