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Syracuse fires assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine

By John Kekis

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Nov. 27 2011 6:23 p.m. MST

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Bernie Fine was fired Sunday by Syracuse University after a third man accused the assistant basketball coach of molesting him nine years ago.

"At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine's employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately," Kevin Quinn, the school's senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

The 65-year-old Fine was in his 36th season at his alma mater. He had the longest active streak of consecutive seasons at one school among assistant coaches in Division I.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, said Sunday that he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. He said Fine touched him "multiple" times in that one incident.

He was the third accuser to come forward in the investigation of child molestation allegations against Fine, who was put on paid administrative leave when accusations first surfaced.

Two former Syracuse ball boys were the first to accuse Fine, who has called the allegations "patently false."

Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he signed an affidavit accusing Fine following a meeting with Syracuse police last week in Albany.

Tomaselli's father, meanwhile, maintains his son is lying.

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine 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 that the 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 began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

No one answered the door at the Fine home Sunday. Earlier in the day, his attorneys released a statement saying Fine would not comment beyond his initial statement.

"Any comment from him would only invite and perpetuate ancient and suspect claims," attorneys Donald Martin and Karl Sleight said. "Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities."

Pete Moore, director of athletic communications at the university, said head coach Jim Boeheim "is not commenting further on the subject at this time."

When a reporter called Boeheim after Fine was fired, he hung up.

Tomaselli said the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky prompted him to come forward. Sandusky is accused in a grand jury indictment of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period.

"It was the Sandusky stuff that came out that really made me think about it," Tomaselli said in the phone interview. "A lot of people were slamming ESPN and Bobby for saying anything. I wanted to come out. ... It made me sick to see all that support for Fine at that point. I was positive he was guilty."

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard that he didn't ask Syracuse police or federal authorities for help in getting the criminal charges dismissed against him in Maine.

Tomaselli was arrested in April on 11 warrants charging gross sexual assault, tampering with a victim, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, five counts of visual sexual aggression against a child and unlawful sexual touching and unlawful sexual contact, Lewiston police said Sunday. They did not say what led to the charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard he met Fine after he and his father, Fred, attended a Syracuse autograph session on campus in late 2001.

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