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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

One of Bernie Fine’s accusers admits his story was a complete lie

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Zach Tomaselli (AP)

Whether it's an Alabama fan poisoning the trees at Toomer's Corner or geriatric Kentucky and Louisville supporters coming to blows at a dialysis clinic, college sports make people act very irrationally at times.

But what Zach Tomaselli says Kansas' loss to Syracuse in the 2003 national title game spurred him to do is even more malicious if it's in fact true.

Tomaselli, one of the three men who accused Bernie Fine of molesting them, now insists he has never met the former Syracuse assistant coach and the story he has told for five months is a fabrication. The 23-year-old wrote in an email to CNY Central late Thursday night that he lied at the request of fellow Fine accuser Bobby Davis in part because he was still upset his beloved Jayhawks lost the championship to a Camelo Anthony-led Syracuse team.

"It was a game to me," Tomaselli said in a follow-up phone interview with CNY Central. "I had fun trying to make this story come alive. I was told by Bobby Davis what kind of porn and everything Bernie likes. So I would add we were watching lesbian porn in the hotel room and basically just going on and on. But obviously it didn't pan out because of my school records and stuff. I was like, oh, that's a hole I didn't fill."

Tomaselli's credibility has come into question throughout the police's investigation into allegations against Fine. He is an admitted drug user who was sentenced Wednesday to three years and three months in prison for sexually abusing a boy in Maine. Furthermore, he had previously admitted to embellishing his story to reporters and police to bolster his claims against Fine.

The problem now is that it's hard to know if anything Tomaselli says is truthful or not. If everything he said prior to Wednesday has been false, why couldn't recanting his original story or insisting that Davis instructed him what to say also be a lie too?

In a conversation with ESPN's Mark Schwarz on Friday, Davis denied telling Tomaselli what to tell police. Instead Davis insisted he asked Tomaselli a series of questions in hopes of determining whether Tomaselli was telling the truth.

"I asked him to describe Bernie's house, to describe the arena, to name the players on the team at that time," Tomaselli told Schwarz. "He kept changing his story with me. He couldn't name the players, couldn't describe the house. I said, 'You just need to call the police.' I called back and asked him if he called the police and he said, 'no one answered.' I said, "no one answered?' "

It remains very difficult to determine the validity of any of the molestation allegations against Fine, but there's no doubt Tomaselli's statements Thursday are a blow to the case. Considering there are only two accusers left, both are outside the statute of limitations allowing a case against Fine and one of them now is alleged to be framing the ex-Syracuse assistant, it's safe to say things are murkier than ever.

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