Syracuse coach Boeheim silent day after Fine fired

By John Kekis

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

"It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told," Boeheim told ESPN, referring to Bobby Davis. "You don't think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?"

Those comments prompted a swift backlash from victims' advocates, who were outraged by Boeheim's attitude.

Ten days later, his stance had changed considerably.

In a statement released Sunday night after Fine's firing, Boeheim expressed regret for his initial statements that might have been "insensitive to victims of abuse."

"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," Boeheim said in a statement released by the school. "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

That apology did not appease all his critics.

Richard Tollner, a member of the New York Coalition to Protect Children, said even if the investigation finds Boeheim didn't know anything before, during or after any abuses occurred, he should at least offer to quit. Tollner and other victims' advocates have been sharply critical of comments Boeheim made when the scandal broke in which he said the accusers were lying to get money.

"We think he should offer his resignation to the Syracuse University Board and the let the board decide with a vote of confidence whether he should continue on or not," said Tollner.

"Mr. Boeheim has a responsibility," Tollner said. "He's a leader. Kids follow what Jim Boeheim says these days. In that light, he should have been more responsible in his remarks."

New York state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, a Queens Democrat who has passed legislation increasing the age from 23 to 28 to bring a claim of sexual abuse, said if an investigation shows Boeheim was aware of the allegations against Fine and did nothing, he should be removed.

"But if he wasn't aware of it, and there was no way of him knowing about it, that's a different set of circumstances," Markey said.

On Sunday, ESPN also played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Fine's wife, Laurie.

Davis told ESPN he made the recording, which also has been given to Syracuse police, without her knowledge because he knew he needed proof for the police to believe his accusations. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine.

During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation.

"Do you think I'm the only one that he's ever done that to?" Davis asked.

"No ... I think there might have been others but it was geared to ... there was something about you," the woman on the tape said.

On the tape, she also says she knew "everything that went on."

"Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues. ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted ... "

Federal authorities investigating Fine are not hampered by a statute of limitations should they turn up evidence Fine molested Tomaselli in Pittsburgh.

Under federal law passed in 2002, prosecutions for the sexual or physical abuse or kidnapping of a child under 18 can continue until the victim turned 25. Subsequent amendments changed that to the life of the child or 10 years after the offense, whichever is longer.

John Duncan, executive assistant U.S. attorney in Syracuse, said a search warrant was executed Friday by the U.S. Secret Service at Fine's residence. He declined to say Monday what was sought or found, saying it remains under seal. "His home was searched," he said.

U.S. Secret Service agent Tim Kirk in Syracuse declined to comment and referred questions to Duncan.

Lee Kindlon, a criminal defense attorney who practices in state and federal courts in upstate New York, said while the statute of limitations won't bar federal prosecutors at this point, they have other issues including the credibility of the accuser and lack of physical proof.

"But these allegations are serious and I think the feds are doing the right thing and looking for proof to back up the accusations," he said.

Also Monday, the Syracuse Police Department said it will provide details of its investigation to the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday, heading off a court appearance that was scheduled for Tuesday morning. DA William Fitzpatrick had complained that the police were not sharing details and accused the police chief and others of leaking information to the media, a claim the police denied.

A two-paragraph statement from the city police noted that the case had entered a "new phase" with the U.S. Attorney and Secret Service taking the lead.

AP Writers Mike Virtanen, Mary Esch and Rik Stevens in Albany and Ben Dobbins in Rochester contributed to this report.

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