Attorneys: Bernie Fine accuser files lawsuit against former coach

Third Bernie Fine accuser files lawsuit

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Story highlights

  • Lawyers for Zachary Tomaselli filed a lawsuit Thursday against Bernie Fine
  • Authorities say they are investigating the allegations against Fine
  • A district attorney says some allegations of sexual misconduct against Fine are credible
  • But he says he cannot prosecute because the statute of limitations has expired

Zachary Tomaselli has sued former Syracuse University basketball coach Bernie Fine for allegedly sexually abusing him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002, according to a lawsuit filed by his attorneys Thursday.

Tomaselli, who himself has admitted to sexually abusing a minor, was thrust into the national spotlight this month as the third man to publicly allege that Fine molested him.

Onondaga County, New York, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has said that while there is credible evidence that suggests Fine may have sexually abused minors, it is not clear that Tomaselli was among them.

Lawyers for Tomaselli, 23, held a news conference Thursday announcing the civil suit against Fine, who has consistently maintained his innocence.

In a handwritten note that Tomaselli read aloud, he said he is "taking this action to support the other men that have gone public and to do everything I can to protect other kids from harm by Bernie Fine and powerful men like him."

Tomaselli has said they watched pornography together before Fine fondled him in a hotel room in Pittsburgh, where he'd gone to watch a Syracuse game.

Fitzpatrick told reporters Wednesday he had handed over exculpatory records on the team's travel and accommodations to Fine's attorneys. He also handed over information on Tomaselli's school attendance.

Exculpatory material tends to either indicate the accuser was not telling the truth or is beneficial to the defense, Fitzpatrick said.

Fine's attorneys, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, said they looked forward to reviewing the records.

"It appears now that there is proof that Tomaselli fabricated this allegation," they said in a statement Wednesday. "The incredible damage that Tomaselli has inflicted on Mr. Fine cannot be overstated."

"We are hopeful that federal authorities will soon come to the same conclusion regarding Tomaselli's lack of credibility," they said.

In Thursday's news conference, Tomaselli also apologized for his own abuse of a child.

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"I know I have done harm to a child as an adult and for that I am deeply sorry," he said, reading from his note.

Tomaselli is facing 11 charges, including gross sexual assault, involving alleged assaults in Maine against a boy who was 13 years old in 2009.

Meanwhile, authorities say they are continuing to investigate allegations against Fine.

On Wednesday, prosecutors said that despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct with minors, they cannot bring charges against the former coach because the statute of limitations has expired.

But that does not mean Fine may not face charges. Federal authorities are investigating allegations made in one more case.

Fitzpatrick offered a personal apology to Bobby Davis, who says he informed Syracuse police in 2002 that he was subjected to inappropriate sexual contact by Fine.

Davis, now 39, alleges the former coach touched him inappropriately beginning in 1984, before he entered seventh grade, and the abuse continued until he was 27. Fitzpatrick said he was forced to get a subpoena to compel Syracuse police to hand over records related to the case.

Mike Lang, a stepbrother of Davis, also accused Fine of inappropriately touching him at various locations, including university basketball facilities.

Fine has not been charged with a crime and has maintained his innocence, saying the allegations are "patently false in every aspect."

Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that with the expired statute of limitations, he wanted to cut a deal with Fine in order to keep him away from young people.

He said he had discussions with two of Fine's attorneys.

"I suggested the following scenario: I have proof that Bobby Davis is telling the truth. Bernie Fine needs to acknowledge that Bobby is telling the truth. That's important," Fitzpatrick said.

Fine, who served as an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University for 35 years, was fired last month over the allegations that he sexually abused boys.

The investigation at Syracuse comes in the wake of a sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, in which former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing boys over a span of 14 years.