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ESPN won't comment on pending Fine lawsuit

The SportsXchange

ESPN refused to comment Thursday on a report that former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine has begun the process of filing a defamation lawsuit against the network.

Fine was fired by Syracuse in November 2011, less than two weeks after ESPN reported the allegations of two former ballboys, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, who maintained that Fine sexually abused them. Fine denied the accusations.

After a lengthy investigation, prosecutors never filed charges against Fine, as the Davis and Lang cases were past the statute of limitations. Authorities also failed to find enough evidence to support the allegations against Fine by a third man, Zachary Tomaselli.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Fine filed a "summons with notice" on Nov. 15, 2012, with the in Onondaga County, N.Y., Supreme Court. Unspecified damages will be sought in the defamation case.

The co-defendants are reportedly Hearst Corp. and The Walt Disney Co., joint owners of ESPN, plus the network's reporter and producer on the Fine story, Mark Schwarz and Arthur Berko, respectively.

Bernie Fine's wife, Laurie Fine, filed a libel suit against ESPN in May 2012.

Bernie Fine was hired in April 2012 to be a consultant to Maccabi Bazan Haifa in Israel, though he was reportedly working from his home in the United States.

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