Syracuse University assistant men’s basketball coach Bernie Fine has been dismissed from his duties Sunday amid an investigation into child molestation charges. A 36-year veteran of the Syracuse program under head coach Jim Boeheim, Fine, who will turn 66 in December, has been accused by three men of molestation. While Boeheim has denied knowledge of wrongdoing, the Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has called for the university to take further disciplinary measures against him.
Syracuse chancellor announced Fine firing Sunday
Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor informed the university community of the Bernie Fine firing via email. According to a statement by Syracuse University’s senior vice president of public affairs Kevin Quinn,
“At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately.”
Fine held the distinction of being the longest-active assistance coach in NCAA Division I athletics. He has denied all allegations of child molestation levied against him.
Latest accuser was 13 at time of alleged incident
Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, told authorities that Fine molested him in 2002 while in a Pittsburgh hotel room, when Tomaselli was 13 years old.
Tomaselli currently faces sexual assault charges of his own stemming from an incident with a 14-year-old boy, according to a telephone interview obtained by the Associated Press. He told the AP during the interview that he signed an affidavit accusing Bernie Fine.
According to Tomaselli’s father, his son isn’t telling the truth.
Boeheim remarks labeled ‘insensitive’
When the first allegations against Fine came from two former Syracuse ball boys, Jim Boeheim claimed the allegations were false and that the supposed victims were seeking a payday. Once the Zach Tomaselli affidavit was filed and Syracuse University terminated Fine’s contract, however, Boeheim changed his position.
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling,” Boeheim said. “I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”
WSYR-TV Syracuse notes that SNAP requested that the university discipline Boeheim for his previous statements regarding Fine and child molestation.
“Boeheim’s apology will do little or nothing to ‘undo’ the harm he’s caused,” read a SNAP statement. “Nor will it deter others from making similarly callous comments in the future. If the university really wants to move forward, and create a safe climate for abuse victims, it must take decisive action against Boeheim.”
AP coverage of Bernie Fine firing
WSYR TV 9 Syracuse: http://bit.ly/tgDARn
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