Third accuser, tape-recorded call surface in Bernie Fine case

Jeff Eisenberg

The more details that emerge in the Bernie Fine saga, the stronger the molestation case against the longtime Syracuse assistant is beginning to look.

ESPN on Sunday released a recorded 2002 phone conversation allegedly between accuser Bobby Davis and Fine's wife in which Laurie Fine appears to admit she knew her husband molested the former ball boy in their home. The Syracuse Post-Standard also reported there is a third alleged victim, who told Syracuse police last week that Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002 when he was 13 years old.

The new revelations come just over a week after Syracuse placed Fine on indefinite leave the night ESPN reported the allegations made by Davis and his brother-in-law. Fine later released a statement denying the allegations and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim defiantly defended his longtime friend, accusing Davis of lying about being molested in an attempt to make money off the allegations.

It's the tape-recorded voice of Fine's wife that may be the most damaging to his claims that he's innocent. ESPN originally obtained the tape from Davis in 2003 and verified that the voice on the tape matches Laurie Fine with an independent voice-recognition analyst after it decided to run the story earlier this month when a second accuser emerged.

[Related: Dan Wetzel: Twist in Syracuse abuse scandal puts coach Jim Boeheim on hot seat]

"I know everything that went on, you know," Laurie Fine said on the call. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted. ...

"Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind."

Among the other graphic details on the recording is Laurie Fine and Davis discussing their own affair he says they had when he was 18. Laurie Fine tells Davis on the call, "He had no business doing what he did with you," then continues, "You know what, neither did I because I really helped screw you up a little more, too." {YSP:MORE}

In addition to the tape-recorded call, the emergence of a third accuser also adds to the evidence against Fine.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, told police he met Fine at an autograph signing in late 2001, stayed in Fine's hotel room during a road trip to Pittsburgh in January 2002 and later received an invitation to a party at Fine's home in 2003. Tomaselli isn't the most credible accuser, however, since he himself is facing sexual assault charges in Maine against a 14-year-old boy and his estranged father told the Post-Standard his son is lying about the accusations and about joining the team in Pittsburgh.

Only Fine and his accusers definitively know the truth about what happened here, but it will be particularly interesting to see if Boeheim's stance changes with the release of this new evidence.

He has steadfastly refused to acknowledge any doubts about Fine's innocence to this point. If he reiterates that position the next time he speaks publicly, his own fate only becomes more intertwined with Fine's.

UPDATE: Boeheim's stance has, indeed, changed. He regrets making the statements he made.

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