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US Attorney's office explains hotline decision

The Executive Assistant US Attorney elaborates on the federal tip line investigators set up in their ongoing investigation of Bernie Fine.

Executive Assistant US Attorney, John Duncan offered insight into the Bernie Fine hotline the federal investigation opened last week. Fine is under federal investigation for allegations of sexual abuse levelled by Zach Tomaselli in addition to local investigations regarding Bobby Davis, Mike Lang, and Floyd VanHooser, who have all alleged abuse by Fine.

The idea of the hotline had been bandied about in the weeks leading up to its implementation last Wednesday. Duncan said the office wanted "to be as thorough as possible, giving the public at least a contact point." Citizens are able to offer tips pertaining to the Fine investigation through the toll-free hotline number (1-855-395-1106) and an email address of the Secret Service (

There is some precedent for the use of hotlines in federal investigations. As Duncan explained, "It's used infrequently, but it's used as an occasional supplement." He alluded to the use of a similar hotline in the investigation of the murder of Assistant US Attorney, Thomas Wales in Seattle.

When asked about the response the hotline has received so far Duncan did not comment.

Federal investigation opens hotline for tips on Fine

The US Attorney's Office has opened a hotline for tips in its ongoing investigation into the allegations against Bernie Fine.

On Wednesday the United States Attorney's Office announced that a hotline is now in service for tips on the federal investigation regarding the former Syracuse associate head coach of the men's basketball team.

Federal authorities, along with Pittsburgh Police, are looking into allegations put forth by Zach Tomaselli that Fine sexually abused him in 2002. Bobby Davis and his step-brother, Mike Lang, have also accused Fine of years of sexual abuse, though they are outside the statute of limitations. A fourth accuser, Floyd VanHooser, has also come forward and is under investigation by the Onondaga District Attorney's Office.

The hotline, 1-(855) 395-1106, is available for anonymous and first-person tips. Through the hotline, previously silent victims would be able to aid in the investigation. The automated voicemail also gives the number of a local "victim/witness specialist," who can be reached at (315) 448-0710. The office can also be reached via email at

An email sent to the US Attorney's Office was not returned by press time.

Fourth Fine accuser comes forward

Another accuser in the Bernie Fine scandal has come forward, claiming the former associate head coach sexually abused him.

A fourth man has accused Bernie Fine of sexually abusing him over the course of four decades.

Floyd VanHooser, the accuser, said the abuse started in 1969 when he was allegedly taken in by Fine as an orphan, according to an interview VanHooser gave to The Post-Standard. At the time, Fine was not yet working for Syracuse University.

VanHooser told police about three different incidents -- in 1998, 2001, and 2011 -- in which Fine paid him for oral sex. The most recent occasion is alleged to have taken place in Fine's Manley Field House office on the university's South Campus.

VanHooser is now 56 years old and is living in Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY where he is serving a 16-years-to-life sentence for repeated counts of burglary and petit larceny.

In a press conference last week, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick maintained that there was no fourth accuser as far as he was concerned.

As per The Post-Standard, VanHooser was on a list of potential victims that Bobby Davis gave to the paper in 2002. He is also said to have lived with Fine off and on for the past 40 years.

As with Davis before him, VanHooser was supposedly helped by Fine at various points in his life. In VanHooser's case, often putting him up at his house and getting him a job, including one at an SU fraternity house for which Fine serves as an adviser, according to the Post-Standard article. VanHooser claims to have continued writing letters to Fine throughout his various jail prison sentences, writing to him as recently as last week.

A former girlfriend of VanHooser's, Cindy Clarke, told the Post-Standard that VanHooser told her about the alleged sexual abuse shortly before she and VanHooser broke up.

Charges have yet to be filed against Fine.

Davis and Lang sue university, Boeheim

Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University have been sued for defamation in the New York Supreme Court regarding their treatment of allegations by Bobby Davis and Mike Lang against former associate head coach Bernie Fine.

Gloria Allred, a longtime civil rights attorney, announced Tuesday that she has filed a defamation suit against Syracuse University and men's basketball head coach Jim Boeheim on behalf of former ball boys Bobby Davis and his step-brother Mike Lang in New York State Supreme Court.

Davis and Lang have accused former assistant coach Bernie Fine of molesting them. After their allegations went public, Boeheim released a statement defending his friend and assistant, saying, "That's what this [the allegations] is about. Money."

In a press conference at the the New York Times Square Renaissance Hotel, Allred announced she is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the university and Boeheim on behalf of the alleged victims. See the statements from the press conference here.

According to Allred, Boeheim's status as a public representative of the university extends the defamation beyond the coach himself. She also made reference to Chancellor Nancy Cantor's email sent Nov. 18 in which she cautioned against a rush to judgment against Fine.

Allred also criticized the school's 2005 investigation, wherein she stated that Davis was interviewed by an individual who was not entirely identified, but asked him questions in an "obviously skeptical tone." The investigation by Bond, Schoeneck, & King, the school's regular legal consultants, was described an "impartial investigation" by Allred.

In the official complaint to the New York State Supreme Court, obtained by The NewsHouse, the 2005 investigation was said to be "conducted by a law firm that had a clear interest in ensuring the university's spotless reputation." Allred supported these claims in her press conference by noting that the Board of Trustees and the District Attorney were never contacted by the university at the time.

As a secondary aim, Allred said she hopes to amend New York State law regarding the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases such as the ones alleged by Davis and Lang. When concluding her statement, Allred said that "change is what they seek the most."

Conistent with her firm's policy, Allred would not specify how much her legal team would be seeking in damages.

After Allred spoke, Davis and Lang each read statements of their own. Davis explained that Boeheim's initial dismissal of his claims was the the fulfillment of a longtime fear. Lang said Boeheim's response made him "sick to [his] stomach."

When asked about Boeheim's recent public apology and his work with the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, Allred said, "I haven't heard it as an apology."

Allred has requested to proceed with the suit, representing Davis and Lang with Marianne Wang pro hac vice. This would allow Allred to go forward with the suit in New York, where she is not licensed to practice.

The suit has officially been filed as Bobby Davis and Michael Lang v. James Boeheim and Syracuse University.

Third accuser sues Fine

Zach Tomaselli, the third accuser in the Bernie Fine scandal, has officially filed suit in Pittsburgh against the former associate head coach.

The third accuser in the Bernie Fine scandal, Zach Tomaselli, filed a civil suit Thursday against the former associate head coach of Syracuse University's men's basketball team. Tomaselli alleges that Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room on that he stayed at with Fine and the rest of the Syracuse basketball team on Jan. 21, 2002.

The father of Zach Tomaselli has claimed that his son is not telling the truth. His son claims that his father also molested him. On Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick stated Wednesday that he will be providing Fine's defense team with information regarding the team's travel arrangements for the 2002 Pittsburgh game in addition to school attendance and hotel records pertaining to Tomaselli, the legal implication being that the evidence may compromise Tomaselli's story. Fitzpatrick is obligated to do so in accordance with Brady v. Maryland as well as Giglio v. United States.

Both precedents also require that the prosecution, in this case state and federal authorities, and now Tomaselli's lawyers, be provided with said material. Fitzpatrick has promised to meet his obligation to Pennsylvania and the US Attorney's office. The News House has no reason to believe the same will not be done for Tomaselli's legal team.

Fine maintains his denial of this charge and is currently being represented by Harris Beach PLLC. The NewsHouse has yet to obtain a statement from his defense. The suit against Fine was filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and is now being referred to as Tomaselli v. Fine 11-025439.

District attorney would have pursued charges against Bernie Fine

Onondaga County DA William Fitzpatrick said there was enough evidence to charge the former associate head coach when the accusers first revealed their story.

On Tuesday morning Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick spent almost an hour addressing members of the local and national media regarding his office’s investigation into sexual abuse allegations aimed at former Syracuse University associate head men’s basketball coach, Bernie Fine.

During the nearly hour-long press conference Fitzpatrick made it clear that he finds the accounts of both former ball boys Bobby Davis and his step-brother Mike Lang strong enough to support a prosecution, adding that due to the expired New York State statute of limitations, such a prosecution is no longer possible for his office.

Furthermore, he holds that while Syracuse University’s 2005 investigation into the allegations, carried out by retained counsel Bond, Schoeneck, and King was insufficient, but did not represent a cover-up on the part of the university.

“It was also clear that Bobby Davis had made several attempts to reveal his molestation; first to the Syracuse Police Department, second to the Syracuse Post-Standard, next to ESPN, and finally to Syracuse University,” Fitzpatrick said.

From the outset of his of the investigation, Fitzpatrick outlined three he sought to answer. The first inquired about the verity of Davis and Lang’s allegations.

“As a prosecutor you make judgments about credibility every day. It’s the essence of what we do,” Fitzpatrick said.

He went on to outline his office’s criteria for determining the credibility of alleged victims, a checklist that included the victim’s reporting the event and maintaining a consistent story with corroborating witnesses in addition to the existence of physically documented evidence.

Lastly, Fitzpatrick posed himself a question: “Do we as prosecutors believe the person to be credible?

“On almost every single criteria, Bobby Davis came out as a credible person.”

Fitzpatrick did acknowledge some faultiness regarding Mike Lang’s allegations, stating that “in assessing Mike Lang it is true that he had not reported these instances of abuse, to our knowledge, prior to 2011.” According to Fitzpatrick, Lang also avoided the 2005 university investigation.

When considering the other criteria however, Fitzpatrick finds Lang to be “a credible person whose allegations could ethically be presented in a court of law.”

In addition to the accusers, Fitzpatrick cited a Nov. 20 interview between his office and someone with personal insight regarding the Fine household that corroborated the alleged victims’ story. According to Fitzpatrick, this interview confirmed an inappropriate relationship between Bobby Davis and Bernie Fine. One that Fine’s wife Laurie was also well aware of.

Fitzpatrick accentuated his passion for the case in a public personal apology to Bobby Davis. Addressing the live-broadcasting YNN cameras as if they were Davis himself, he emphatically said, “Bobby, I’m sorry you took so long. I wish I had met you as a prosecutor in 2002, even more importantly I wish I had met you as a prosecutor in the 1980s. We wouldn’t be here today.”

Lang was also emotionally addressed in the second person as Fitzpatrick characterized him as a positive example for other currently silent victims. “Mike, it’s never too late to do the right thing and let it be known by everybody in people in this room, you did just that: the right thing.”

With remorse, Fitzpatrick again noted that the statute of limitations ensured that his office would not be able to prosecute Fine.

“I can’t bring Bernie Fine to justice for what he did to Bobby Davis and Mike Lang,” he said.

Fitzpatrick’s second question concerned the existence of both past and present victims. The investigation of the third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, has yielded a number of discrepancies between the alleged victim’s story and “exculpatory evidence” that the Fitzpatrick was legally obligated to hand over to Fine’s defense team.

He also refuted the New York Daily News report of a fourth victim, but has urged anyone with information about other potential victims to come forward.

His assessment of the 2005 University investigation carried out by Bond, Schoeneck, & King was especially damning, saying, “There was little, if any, intellectual curiosity exhibited in the report.” He went on to criticize a lack of follow-up, particularly in the 2005 investigation’s failure to interview a potential second victim in person.

He does not however, find the law firm’s long term employment by the university to be a conflict of interest, answering his third question as to whether or not there was a cover-up or “institutional breakdown” on the part of Syracuse University.

Fitzpatrick makes a clear distinction between the Fine scandal and the Sandusky controversy at Penn State wherein high-ranking University officials are alleged to have ignored reports of child molestation. “It’s hard for me to call a four-month investigation by a prestigious law firm a cover-up.” Until recently, there had been no such formal investigation at Penn State.

He specifically defended the integrity of Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “If she made a mistake it was trusting the report. From day one she has fully cooperated with my office,” he said.

Jim Boeheim has also come under fire amid early reports that he had seen Davis in Fine’s hotel room. Fitzpatrick clarified Davis’s version of this event as a one-time occurrence during which Boeheim saw “nothing untoward.” Despite substantial media pressure, Davis has not called for the firing of any present university employees.

Responding to questions about the future of the Syracuse community Fitzpatrick said, “We’re going to be fine.”

Board of Trustee members in 2005 weren't aware of Fine investigation

An internal investigation done in 2005 looking into child molestation allegations against former associate head coach of Syracuse University's men's basketball team was supposedly kept secret from university trustees.

Syracuse University’s four-month internal investigation in 2005 regarding Bobby Davis’s sexual assault allegations against Bernie Fine appears to have been conducted without the knowledge of the school’s Board of Trustees. According to an article in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Bernie Fine never came up in board deliberations.

The NewsHouse attempted to contact several current Board of Trustee members, none of whom were willing to comment.

At the time, Syracuse’s regularly-consulted legal advisors, Bond, Schoeneck & King carried out an investigation concerning Davis’s allegations. According to the university, the investigation failed to unearth evidence corroborating Davis’ story, and as such, it was abandoned.

Six years later, an audiotape documenting a conversation between Bobby Davis and Bernie Fine’s wife, Laurie, was released by ESPN. In that tape, Fine repeatedly acknowledged that her husband had sexually abused Davis. In 2003 she confirmed that it was her voice on the tape, but has since refused to confirm that the tape is entirely accurate, stating that it was tampered with.

SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor and the University as a whole have come under fire for failing to unveil the condemning evidence that Cantor admitted was the catalyst for Fine’s firing. In a letter to USA Today, Cantor said Fine would have been fired had the University been aware of the tape earlier.

She also responded to those questioning the university’s failure to report the allegations to the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office, writing that, “In our experience, the DA and the police are synonymous.” Further controversy has stemmed from the fact that former Syracuse basketball player, Dennis Duval, was the Syracuse Chief of Police at the time. DuVal played for Syracuse from 1972-1974 when Boeheim was still an assistant. Bernie Fine has yet to come on as Boeheim’s assistant.

In 2002, when Davis first went to Syracuse City Police with these claims, he said he gave the tape to Syracuse police as evidence. Davis did tell Syracuse University that he had gone to the police. Whether or not he mentioned the tape remains unclear. Cantor’s letter states that Davis did not provide the university with the tape during its initial investigation in 2005. ESPN and The Post-Standard were also in possession of the evidence prior to the University investigation, but did not release it, citing a lack of confirming witnesses or other accusers.

SU has since hired the New York-based law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to review the school’s response to the original school investigation.


Students react to third accuser

The third accuser of Bernie Fine, the former associate head coach of the Syracuse University men's basketball program, interviewed with Pittsburgh police Wednesday, as SU students react to the new allegations.

With a third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, coming forward to interview with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Wednesday morning, yet another chapter was opened in the continually unfolding Bernie Fine saga. Tomaselli, 23, who now lives in Lewiston, Maine, claims Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002 when he was 13 years old.

The most apparent implication of the new allegations is that Pennsylvania state law allows for the prosecution of some sex criminals up until the alleged victim’s 50th birthday. So though the accusations put forth by former ball boys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang are outside the statute of limitations in the state of New York, Fine now faces the possibility of prosecution in Pennsylvania.

Syracuse students voice mixed reactions in the face of these new allegations.

“It’s obviously not a good thing, but it’s not horrible,” pre-med freshman Jack Kennell said. 

A life-long Syracuse fan and Buffalo, N.Y. native, Kennell distinctly separates the accusations against Fine from SU as a whole.

“It’s a coach; it has nothing to do with students or teachers,” he asserts. 

Kennell anticipates serious consequences like "serious jail time" for Fine. 

Illustration freshman Juliana Meddick puts it simply. “He’s screwed," she said.

Other students however, are more hesitant.

Pointing to Tomaselli’s father denying his son’s claims, aerospace engineering freshman Jacob Mullen said, “I think the father is trying to reserve judgment like the rest of us are until all the facts come out.”

Mullen also claims his support of the program may waiver depending on the ever-unfolding news.

“Half the reason I chose to come to Syracuse was the sports...[the allegations] make me rethink my allegiance to the team,” he notes.  

“There’s still a lot of questions to be answered about this case,” Mullen said. 

Yet the significance of the case crossing state borders is not lost on acting freshman Amanda Rojas, who feels the latest testimony raises the stakes. 

She, too, is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“If there’s evidence then it’s gonna become pretty black and white," she says. Either it happened or it didn’t.”

US Secret Service and Attorney General’s office both searched Fine’s office at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center Wednesday morning. Pittsburgh police have promised to cooperate with the Syracuse Police Department’s investigation.

No. 3 Syracuse (7-0, 5-0 home) hosts No. 9 Florida (5-1, 2-1 road) Friday at 7 p.m.


UPDATE Tomaselli appeared in court in Auburn, Maine Thursday regarding allegations that he molested a 13 year-old boy at a summer camp at which he worked last year. He faces 11 different charges of molestation and is currently trying to have what he claims was coerced testimony, dismissed. Tomaselli and his lawyer are claiming that the detective who interrogated him mislead him about the law concerning his case, leading him to falsely confess.


Tomaselli has also stated that molestations by his father and Fine have clouded his perception of what is a proper relationship between a man and a child. He is presently receiving counseling on the matter.


Information from a Dec. 1 AP article appearing in the Post-Standard was used in this update.