Two men who accused former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse have filed a defamation lawsuit against Syracuse University and head basketball coach Jim Boeheim.
Bobby Davis, 39, and his stepbrother Mike Lang, 45, both say Fine abused them while they were team ballboys in the 1980s. Davis says the abuse continued into his 20s.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by high-profile civil rights attorney Gloria Allred. Allred, along with Davis and Lang, announced the lawsuit during a news conference in New York City Tuesday afternoon. (See the full lawsuit and statements from Allred, Davis and Lang below.)
“It is now time to make Coach Boeheim and Syracuse University accountable to both Bobby and Mike who have suffered enough,” said Allred.
In the days following an ESPN report in November that made the allegations public against Fine public, Boeheim said he thought that Davis and Lang were lying.
“Well, why didn’t he come forward before?” Boeheim asked during an interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard. “Here’s why: The Penn State thing came out and the kid behind this is trying to get money. He’s tried before. And now he’s trying again.”
Davis, reading from a prepared statement, said he was filing the lawsuit to help other children come forward if they have been sexually abused.
“I am filing this lawsuit because I don’t want them to be afraid,” Davis said. “The coach seriously hurt my reputation, but I want people to know the truth.”
Lang, who also read from a prepared statement, said he also hopes other children who have been sexually abused will come forward.
“Coming forward was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life and I hope that by doing this I can help other victims have the courage to also come forward, not just in this case but in any case in which they have been abused.”
Allred said Syracuse University is included in the lawsuit because of its handling of an investigation into Davis’ allegations in 2005. The University hired its lawyers to investigate the allegations and found no corroborating evidence against Fine. Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said during a news conference last week that the University’s investigation was “inadequate.”
“The University failed Bobby by failing to conduct a full investigation by impartial investigators and by failing to report Bobby’s allegations to the Syracuse [University] Board of Trustees and to the Syracuse District Attorney,” said Allred.
The lawsuit says Davis and Lang “seek compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial. “ Allred would not say how much Davis and Lang were suing for.
Fine is not named in this lawsuit, because the statute of limitations in the case has expired. Fine is being sued by the third accuser in the case, Zach Tomaselli. Tomaselli says he was abused by Fine in a Pittsburgh hotel in 2002. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service continue to investigate those allegations.