District attorney battles police chief in Syracuse sex abuse probe

Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine has called the allegations against him  "patently false."

Story highlights

  • District attorney accuses police chief of leaking affidavit to the media
  • Syracuse mayor defends actions of the police department
  • Assistant coach Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave last week
The investigation into claims that a Syracuse assistant basketball coach molested young boys is at a standstill as law enforcement officials find themselves at odds.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick harshly criticized Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler and Deputy Chief Sean Broton over the handling of a 2002 probe into a ball boy's molestation claims against Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
Fine has called the allegations "patently false."
Fitzpatrick accused police officials of leaking a sealed affidavit from a female witness in the Fine case to the media.
Bobby Davis, 39, told ESPN last week that Fine molested him "hundreds of times" over the course of 16 years, starting from when he was in the fifth or sixth grade.
Davis told university officials six years ago that he informed Syracuse, New York, police that he had been "subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach" during the 1980s and 1990s, according to university Senior Vice President Kevin C. Quinn.
Police had originally told Davis that they would not pursue the case because the statute of limitations had expired, Quinn said in a statement.
Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, has also accused Fine of molestation. Lang told ESPN last week that Fine molested him "15 to 20 times." That accusation has kick-started a new police investigation.
Fitzpatrick filed subpoenas for records in the 2002 and current investigations that he said he should readily have access to.
"I have a chief that's intentionally trying to sabotage an investigation, a chief that is preventing the finding out of whether an innocent man has had his reputation besmirched or whether a person has been victimized in the most violent disgusting manner," Fitzpatrick said.
Attempts to reach Fowler were not returned, but Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner defended the police department's actions. In a statement, Miner criticized the DA for "grandstanding" and said, "It is deeply unfortunate for the people of this community, the accused and the accusers that the district attorney has chosen a different tactic, resorting to personal and professional attacks."
"Chief Fowler, Deputy Chief Broton and the Syracuse Police Department have conducted themselves with complete professionalism and integrity throughout this process. We are focused on trying to find the truth in this highly charged environment."
Syracuse placed Bernie Fine on administrative leave last week after the accusations surfaced.
The case has been adjourned by New York State Supreme Court Judge James Murphy until next Tuesday, according to Barry Weiss from the district attorney's office.