NEW: Men say Coach Jim Boeheim essentially called them liars
NEW: Bobby Davis says he wants to "give children the courage to talk"
Syracuse and longtime head basketball coach named in lawsuit
The two men have accused ex-assistant coach Bernie Fine of child sexual abuse
Two men who accused a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach of sexual abuse have filed a defamation lawsuit in a New York court against the university and its longtime head basketball coach, Jim Boeheim, their attorney announced Tuesday.
Bobby Davis and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, have alleged that Bernie Fine repeatedly abused them when they were children.
The former assistant coach has not been charged with a crime and has maintained his innocence, saying the allegations are “patently false in every aspect.”
Boeheim initially supported Fine, accusing Lang and Davis of fabricating their accusations of Fine’s alleged misconduct.
But the coach later apologized for his comments.
“I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made,” he said. “I shouldn’t have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives.”
Reading from a written statement on Tuesday, Lang told reporters that Boeheim’s initial comments made him feel “sick to my stomach,” and that he worried they “may have stopped others from coming forward.”
Davis told “Piers Morgan Tonight” later Tuesday that he wants to encourage young victims of abuse to speak up.
“I am coming forth to (help) give children the courage to talk. I was afraid all my life to talk about this,” he said.
Lang said it wasn’t for him to say whether Boeheim should be fired. “He did a lot of damage by calling us liars when he did not know the facts.”
Attorney Gloria Allred told reporters that Boeheim’s subsequent apology was “too little, too late.”
“Over the past 35 years, Boeheim had hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to observe Fine’s relationship with boys,” Allred added.
On one occasion, the lawsuit alleges that Boeheim saw a then-15 year old Davis lying on a bed in Fine’s hotel room. Boeheim could not be immediately reached for comment regarding that accusation.
Davis, now 39, says Fine molested him beginning in 1984, before he entered seventh grade, and continued to abuse him until he was 27.
Lang also accused Fine of inappropriately touching him at various locations, including university basketball facilities.
Fine, who worked at Syracuse for more than three decades, was fired last month over the allegations.
A third man, Zachary Tomaselli, has already sued Fine. In the lawsuit, filed last week by his attorneys, the Maine resident alleges Fine sexually abused him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.
Tomaselli, who himself has admitted to sexually abusing a minor, said they watched pornography together before Fine fondled him in the hotel room during a road trip.
New York district attorney William Fitzpatrick has said that while there is credible evidence to suggest Fine may have sexually abused minors, it is not clear that Tomaselli was among them.
Last week, prosecutors noted that despite the credible allegations, 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 say they are also investigating other allegations of misconduct.