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Syracuse puts Fine on leave after police inquiry

By John Kekis

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 18 2011 1:09 p.m. MST

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor vowed Friday that the school will not turn a blind eye to child molesting allegations against a longtime assistant basketball coach that resurfaced just two weeks after the Penn State scandal.

The school placed Fine on administrative leave Thursday night "in light of the new allegations" and an investigation by the Syracuse City Police.

ESPN said the accusations were made by two former ball boys.

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine allegedly molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis told ESPN the alleged abuse occurred at Fine's home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.

Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine molested him starting while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

"We hold everyone in our community to high standards and we don't tolerate illegal, abusive or unethical behavior — no matter who you are," Cantor said in an email Friday morning to students, faculty and staff.

"At this time, all we really know is that a terrible tragedy is unfolding for both the accuser and the accused. I want you to know that we will do everything in our power to find the truth."

A teenaged boy who answered the door at Lang's house outside Syracuse said he was not home.

Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan said the investigation is in its early stages. He said police were given information on Thursday but declining to identify who provided it.

Fine is in his 35th season as a Syracuse assistant. No one answered the door at his home Friday.

"He has vehemently denied the allegations and should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend himself against these accusations," Cantor said in the email.

Orange coach Jim Boeheim released a statement Thursday saying: "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 (have) been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."

ESPN said it first investigated the accusations in 2003, but decided not to run the story because there was no independent evidence to corroborate the allegations. Recently, a second man contacted ESPN, alleging that Fine also molested him. That person said he decided to come forward after seeing the Penn State coverage.

The Post-Standard said it, too, held off in 2003 for the same reason.

A statement by Kevin Quinn, the school's senior vice president for public affairs, said Syracuse was contacted in 2005 by "an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach."

Quinn said the alleged activity took place in the 1980s and 1990s.

"We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired," Quinn said.

Quinn said the school conducted its own four-month investigation at that time, including interviews with people the accuser said would support his allegations, but that all of them "denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct" and that the coach also denied the allegations.

Davis said he felt bitter emotions after sex scandals emerged in the Catholic Church and, lately, with the allegations and charges against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

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