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Laurie Fine is Suing ESPN For Libel

Laurie Fine, the wife of former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine, announced that she will be suing ESPN, reporter Mark Schwarz, and producer Arty Berko for libel as a result of the reporting they did on the audio tape of Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis.

Laurie Fine claims that the audio tape presentation by ESPN took her comments out of context and cast her in a false light, suggesting she knew about her husband’s alleged abuse. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard story on this pending lawsuit, Fine will claim that she did not believe Davis, but rather than continue to attack him and vilify him, agreed to let him make accusations.

“In light of the Fines’ agreement to no longer ‘go off’ on Davis, Laurie would patiently suffer Davis’ vilification of her husband with the hope that Davis would eventually outgrow the lies and his dependency upon her family for financial support,” the lawsuit said, in what appears to be an explanation for Laurie Fine not denying Davis’ allegations in the taped 2002 phone call.

Of course, truth is a defense to a libel suit, so we can all sit back and grab the popcorn if this lawsuit were to ever somehow magically get to a trial. Laurie Fine’s story that she would just let Davis make accusations and take it, may not match up with statements from that audio recording about knowing her husband needed male companionship she could not provided, or knowing that there were others but Davis was special.

Another potential issue is whether Fine is considered a public figure for purposes of the lawsuit, as the wife of the Syracuse assistant, as that affects the elements of making a libel claim.

[UPDATE: ESPN has issued a comment regarding this matter: "The suit is without merit and we stand by our reporting."]

[photo via Syracuse.com]

Previously: Syracuse Police Investigating Assistant Syracuse Basketball Coach Bernie Fine For Molestation
Previously: ESPN’s Role in the Bernie Fine Investigation Is Troubling
Previously: Bernie Fine’s Wife Knew About the Possibility of Abuse

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