Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick held a press conference to publicly state his position on the Bernie Fine case. Was it some public grandstanding by a public figure? Sure. Ultimately, he stated that no charges will be brought by his office because the potential crimes that occurred in his jurisdiction are too old, and the statute of limitations has passed.
Fitzpatrick called the accusers, Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, credible and believable. Fitzpatrick would have brought these charges, not knowing how a jury would have ultimately decided, if not barred by the statute of limitations.
He also said that there was “little doubt that Laurie Fine knew of an inappropriate relationship” and may have been subjected to criminal charges also.
As for Zach Tomaselli, the third accuser who has come forward in this case, claiming he traveled with team personnel and stayed with Fine in Pittsburgh, where he was abused, Fitzpatrick said, “Mr. Tomaselli has alleged no illegal conduct in Onondaga county.” School records show Tomaselli was in school, not in Pittsburgh, at the time he allegedly was abused.
If charges will be brought against Fine, it will have to be out of Tomaselli’s allegations, involving federal authorities for interstate travel involving Fine and Tomaselli in 2002.
Regarding the initial investigation in 2002: Syracuse police were initially contacted by a friend of Bobby Davis, and then a detective talked to him by phone while Davis was in Utah. The detective correctly informed him that the statute of limitations had run, but encouraged him to provide any information of anyone else that might be in danger. It sounds like the investigation was a short hand written note on that phone call.
Later, Chief Duval was asked by Post-Standard whether investigation of Bernie Fine was underway. Chief decided that file would not be opened until victim came forward.
From Fitzpatrick, who praised the detective in question as someone concerned with children’s welfare, “Certainly in hindsight, more should have been done to get him to come forward, to encourage him.”
On Syracuse’s investigation in 2005: Chancellor Nancy Cantor received an anonymous email alleging abuse by a member of coaching staff. Cantor forwarded and hired counsel to investigate. That file included unsworn statements from Davis, Bernie and Laurie Fine, and two phone conversations with members of the Athletic Department, including a person who had been present at a dinner with both Fine and Davis. It also involved questioning one other person who Davis offered as maybe being abused also. Other person denied being abused.
Fitzpatrick called the investigation by Syracuse was inadequate, “lacking intellectual curiosity, and ignoring several red flags.” He also said that “Child abuse investigations should be conducted by professional child abuse investigators”. However, he exonerated Chancellor Cantor and said that she always acted decisively, and only fault was in relying on that investigation. (“It’s hard for me to call a four month investigation a cover-up”).
On Bobby Davis and Mike Lang: “Bobby, I’m sorry it took so long. I wish I would have met you as a prosecutor in 2002, or even more, back in the 1980’s.”
So for now, we await and see whether Bernie Fine will face any criminal charges, whether any other more recent victims come forward, and whether the allegations made by Zach Tomaselli result in any federal charges.
Previously: Jim Boeheim Apologizes: “I Am Really Sorry That I Did That . . . It Was Insensitive”
Previously: Syracuse Post-Standard Explains Their Decision Regarding the Laurie Fine Tape
Previously: Jim Boeheim: “I Supported A Friend, That’s What I Thought I Did”
Previously: Jim Boeheim Should Be Suspended, But Not Fired, At This Point
Previously: ESPN’s Role in the Bernie Fine Investigation is Troubling
[photo via Getty]