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Why Jim Boeheim Has to Go: Fan’s Opinion
On November 27, 2011, the University of Syracuse fired longtime basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine. Syracuse took the action after two new revelations came out in the sexual molestation allegations against Fine.
I've been a Syracuse Orange basketball fan since the late 1970s, so I've been following this case closely. I understand that firing Jim Boeheim would hurt Syracuse basketball, but that is irrelevant now in this case. Here's why.
Quick Review of Events in Bernie Fine Case
On November 17, 2011, two former Syracuse ball boys accused Fine of having molested them beginning in the late 1970s. The two men, Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, made the accusations against Fine on ESPN's Outside the Lines.
Davis had made the same exact allegations against Fine back in 2002 to local police, in 2003 to ESPN, and in 2005 to Syracuse University. The police told Davis the statue of limitations had run out on the crimes he was claiming happened, ESPN said it could not find enough corroborating evidence to go forward with the story, and Syracuse University also said it could not find corroborating evidence.
Laurie Fine Says Her Husband Needs Help and Thinks He is Above the Law
On November 27, 2011, ESPN released a phone call that Bobby Davis legally taped in 2002, in which he discusses Bernie Fine with Fine's wife Laurie. In the tape, Laurie Fine says her husband needs help, and that he thinks he is above the law. She also says to Davis, "You did nothing wrong, and you were a child, and he took advantage of that."
The tape certainly appears to be corroborating evidence, and one wonders why ESPN waited until now to release it. Also yesterday it was revealed that another man, Zach Tomaselli, age 23, is now claiming that Bernie Fine molested him back in 2003, when he was a minor.
Tomaselli appears to be a less than credible witness, as he faces charges that he molested an under age boy in Maine. His father has also come out and said he is sure his son is lying. The Laurie Fine telephone conversation though, certainly seems to back up Bobby Davis' accusations against Bernie Fine.
Jim Boeheim Rushed to Support Bernie Fine and Intimidate Accusers and Victims
When Davis and Lang made their accusations against Fine on November 17, 2011, Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim came out strongly in support of his longtime assistant Fine. Boeheim accused Davis and Lang of lying for money. He said it was suspicious that Davis came forward again now after the Penn State scandal. Boeheim also said that Bernie Fine had his full support.
With the firing of Bernie Fine, Jim Boeheim's statements against Davis and Lang, and as well as his full support of Bernie Fine make him look foolish. But looking foolish is not why Jim Boeheim has to go. He has to go because of what the Reverend Robert M. Hoatson said.
Hoatson, who is the founder and president of the sexual abuse recovery group, Road to Recovery, said Boeheim's statements were meant to intimidate both the alleged victims in this case, and any other victims from coming forward. Hoatson went on to say, "He (Boeheim) just wants to protect his program, and the program isn't worth a hill of beans if it has exposed children to pedophilia."
Hoatson is right on the money, and that's why Jim Boeheim has to go. When the allegations came out again on November 17, 2011, with an additional accuser in the form of Mike Lang, Jim Boeheim should have said he would look into the matter, that he wouldn't tolerate the behavior Davis and Lang described. But Boeheim didn't do that. Instead he rushed to support Fine, and to try and intimidate Davis and Lang, as well as any other victims in the case.
For doing that, Jim Boeheim should be fired. After Fine's firing, Boeheim did a major back peddle, saying that the case should be fully investigated, and that he deeply regretted any statements he made that might have inhibited anyone with information from coming forward. Too late Jim Boeheim, way too late. You had your chance to separate yourself from Bernie Fine, and say justice will be done. Instead, you chose a different route.
If Syracuse Keeps Jim Boeheim It Sends a Clear Message to Child Abuse Victims That They Don't Matter
If Syracuse University keeps Jim Boeheim as its head basketball coach, it is sending a clear message to all the victims of child abuse. A large powerful institution will side with someone who tries to intimidate you into not coming forward in order to protect its own interests.
Is that how Syracuse University wants to be portrayed? If it does, go ahead and keep your head basketball coach. If it doesn't, then Jim Boeheim has to go.
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