December 7th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

DA: Bernie Fine accusers credible, but statue of limitations expired

[Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET] A district attorney in central New York says that despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct against minors, he cannot bring charges against a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach because the statute of limitations has expired.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick offered a personal apology to Bobby Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy who says he informed Syracuse police in 2002 that he was subjected to inappropriate sexual contact by Bernie Fine.

Davis, now 39, alleges the former coach touched him inappropriately beginning in 1984, before he entered seventh grade, and the abuse continued until he was 27.

Timeline of Bernie Fine case

Fitzpatrick said was forced to get a subpoena to compel Syracuse police to hand over records related to the case.

Mike Lang, a stepbrother of Davis, also accused Fine of inappropriately touching him at various locations, including university basketball facilities. Similar allegations made by Zach Tomaselli, 23, are still being investigated by federal authorities.

Fine has not been charged with a crime and has maintained his innocence, saying the allegations are "patently false in every aspect." Syracuse fired him last month after Davis reiterated his allegations in an interview with ESPN and Lang went public with his allegations.

The district attorney's announcement comes after federal agents searched the home and office of the former coach, looking for possible evidence of his alleged interactions with minors, according to unsealed court documents.

The investigation at Syracuse comes in the wake of a sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, in which former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing boys over a span of 14 years. Sandusky has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation - saying he only "horsed around" with the disadvantaged boys in his care - and is currently free on $100,000 bail.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Crime • New York • Syracuse
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Nate

    I think you mean "Statute" not Statue of limitations.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh Davis

      Who cares.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @Josh Davis
      Watch Idiocracy.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeahalright

      I care, for one. It's embarrassing that people when people who are professionals with words get them wrong.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AmLowLife

    Gawd, he looks like a Catholic priest, doesn't he?

    December 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh Davis

      No, he looks like a coach.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • boyamidumb

      No, he looks like your father.

      Tell you what, I grew up with priests and never once in my life did one ever do or say anything that was inappropriate. I'm not a Catholic any longer, in fact I don't like any organized religions, but to rap all priest because they have some offenders and because their church didn't do the right thing – is ignorant and small minded. Had a lot of coaches too, and none of them ever did anything weird either. I certainly hope you are judged as you are judging.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blair Thomas

      Pedophiles look like priests because priests are the professional pedophiles.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      @Blar Thomas: You win the Repulsive Award for Most Stupid, Uninformed Statement today.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Clay

    Statue??? My god, and they're journalists!!! It never ceases to amaze me how little expertise is still in the media!!

    December 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoFaster58

      Just remember that it's the media that screws up this country. They're responsible for the election of the idiot in the WH.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh Davis

      Its a spelling error. Happens ALL THE TIME. Its not like the author of this article is writing a research paper for Harvard or anything.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm need to come out from under your rock more often.
      Bush hasn't been in office for years now.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kevininvancouver

    The abuse continued until he was 27 – that sounds consensual to me.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Well he just said it continued until age 27.
      He didn't say he wasn't enjoying himself or getting paid/rewarded for it somehow.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SABC

    Something has to change in PA – there should be no statute of limitations for child abuse. Those poor boys! And Fine is going to get off with no punishment. HOPE he does not get his job back – PEDOPHILE.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • propmgr

      Syracuse is in NY, not PA. The Feds are pursuing the case, and Fine likely will not get off with no punishment.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. realtalker

    That's why the statute is there. You simply can't wait until you're 39 to report a crime against you. I recognize that it's a difficult thing to talk about especially for a child. But that's why we need to teach our children that there is no subject off limits for them to talk to us about at an early age. And lead by example. Make sure you create an environment where your child knows when they are being abused and knows they can be open with you about it. After so many years, all it is is an accusation.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      But people supposedly abused by a preist when they were children can come forward 30 – 40 years later with absolutely no evidence and everyone believes them.
      What a society we live in.
      The law is there to protect everyone.
      I hope no one ever accuses you of a crime with no evidence that you didn't commit.
      Guilty or not it will ruin your life.
      Reminds of the Salem witch hunts.....

      December 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean


      You are a sick man sir.
      This is what religion does to people. They have blind faith in their dogma and reject the reality of what is right in front of them. You have no problem believing in Bronze Age fairy tales because lots of people do. Whose only ‘evidence’ is a book that has been edited and translated hundreds of times over a few hundred years? However where you take issue is with the hundreds of adults and children that have brought these accusations against the priest hood?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      @Sean: You don't have to be religious. So sop PREACHING to those who are. Gaagggg.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @ leslyn
      In one of your other posts you suggest that a person “Go find a dictionary”. I suggest the same to you here. Now did you actually have a rebuttal to my comment or are you just going to hold your breath until I agree with you?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sstanfa

    CNN may have “dropped the ball” on this. If Fitzpatrick said, "he was forced to get a subpoena to compel Syracuse police". What I want to know is what are police hiding? And are they now cooperating with the U.S. Attorney on the federal investigation to get justice for the victims. I smell a cover up.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tony

    The guy may or may not be guilty, but I think it's patently unfair to smear a person with the smarmiest photo of him you have in stock.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John B

    Statute of limitations on a child coming forward with abuse/molestation? Nothing like a loophole for molesters to count on!

    December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shane


    December 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. iBernard

    The government, nationally, needs to abolish the "statute of limitations" entirely. There are any number of reasons people don't step forward to report some type of crime committed against them. Fear. Shame. Shock. But to have to suffer in silence for years or decades, more than likely suffer from PTSD, well – the victim's life, and ability to live a full and productive realization of all their talents, and to simply "enjoy" life is severely hampered by "what must not be spoken." In the meantime, the perpetrator of any crime covered by the statute of limitations goes on to live a full life...full of secrets. I say abolish the statute of limitations NOW. It's really the right thing to do.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      No, it's really not the right thing to do. There are all kinds of good reasons for the statute of limitations (SOL), chiefly directed at keeping an innocent person from being convicted on bad evidence. SOLs can be drafted for very limited types of cases that would allow the statute to begin running in certain cases when the victim comes forward. Apparently the DA in New York doesn't have that kind.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. s. timmons


    December 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      Right. It's Obama's fault.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Miltonboy

    LOL. They got it right in the first para. of the article.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. boyamidumb

    There should be NO statute of limitations on this kind of crime. Especially when you consider that most people are too ashamed to report it until they reach adulthood.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rick

    The abuse went on until he was 27??? If yes, then he was abused voluntarily.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      How can a person be "abused" "voluntariily"? Go find a dictionary. And if you want to know how a person can be manipulated by abuse of power from childhood until adulthood–well. Go put yourself violent alcoholic family.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      I agree with rick on this one. Once he turned 18 he was legally responsible for himself and more than likely able to fend off any unwanted touching. I’m not saying this pedo should get off. But the victims of such cases also need to start taking responsibility for their own actions or lack thereof.

      They wait years, even decades to finally come forward then have the nerve to be indignant when little to nothing happens. Ask any DA, the hardest issue with prosecuting these types of cases is that the victim waited to long.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
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