Syracuse Police changes sex abuse policy in the wake of Bernie Fine case

Nov 30, 2011

The Syracuse Police Department has changed some policies regarding allegations of sex abuse that come into the department, in the wake of the Bernie Fine investigation.  Fine is the former assistant S-U   Basketball coach who is accused of sexually molesting three young men, at different times since 1990 .   Police Chief Frank Fowler says an initial allegation came into the department in 2002, from Bobby Davis, a former Ballboy with the team.  Fowler says in a brief conversation, Davis told a detective he'd been molested in 1990 at Fine's home.  At that point, Fowler says the detective asked two things of Davis, who was calling from Utah.

"One was to come in and meet with him in person," said Fowler. "That didn't happen. And two, if there are other people that aged in the time frame in which they are alleging the abuse that fell within the statute to advise us of those people so that we can look into it ourselves. That did not take place."

Fowler says the detective turned the information over to the leadership of the Police Department, which made the decision not to investigate.  Fowler emphasizes that the department followed the guidelines in place at the time.  So how would things be handled now, if the same thing happened at the Syracuse Police Department?

"In looking at this case, we've changed our policy at the Syracuse Police Department so that if today, if a complaint came in like it did in 2002 it would be entered into a computer database," he said. "It would still be treated as an allegation as opposed to an official complaint."

Fowler says that way, detectives can determine if there is a pattern, based on allegations in the database.    Syracuse Police this week turned over all information it had on Fine over to the Onondaga County District Attorney's office, after originally refusing to do that.  The D-A, and Police Department, are helping the U-S Attorney's office and Secret Service, which are the lead agencies in  the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse against Fine.

Read Frank Fowler's statement released to the media Tuesday, and hear him explain the departments' actions in 2002 to WRVO's Ellen Abbott.