Originally written on SPORTS by BROOKS  |  Last updated 11/17/14

In 2003 ESPN received an audio tape from Bobby Davis, who alleged that it included the recorded voice of Bernie Fine’s wife.

(Laurie Fine verified voice on tape in’03. Where was World Wide Leader?)

In the tape, Laurie Fine acknowledged her husband’s sexual abuse of a child - Davis himself - on multiple occasions while also confirming that she thought there were more molestation victims who had been targeted by Bernie Fine.

On Nov. 17, 2011, ESPN first broke the news of the allegations against Fine by Davis and his stepbrother Mike Lang, though ESPN did not acknowledge the existence of the audio tape until last Sunday. ESPN’s acknowledgement of the tape - and its contents - quickly led to Bernie Fine’s firing by Syracuse University. The revelations of the tape also produced a backtracking statement from Jim Boeheim, who had earlier cited his 48-year friendship with Fine in calling Davis and Lang “liars” who were “trying to get money.”

As part of a Q & A done with ESPN VP of Public Relations Josh Krulewitz about the network’s coverage of the story, ESPN Senior Vice President & Director of News Vince Doria justified not reporting the allegations made against Bernie Fine in 2003 - which included the audio tape in which Laurie Fine acknowledged her husband’s sexual abuse of a child - thusly:

“based on that tape which we had not generated; which we had no real knowledge of how it was made and Bobby Davis’s story – which was one person with no corroboration – we felt in 2003 that the material we had did not meet the standards for reporting the story.”

But Laurie did, in fact, “corroborate” the allegations made by Davis at that time - to the SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD: in 2003 confirm that it was indeed her voice on the tape to the SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD:

After we heard the tape, we approached Laurie Fine. She admitted to phone conversations with Davis.

The bedrock defense from ESPN’s Doria in not reporting the existence of the tape when ESPN broke the story on Nov. 17, 2011, was that he and his colleagues had previously been unable to confirm Laurie Fine’s voice on the tape.

When we had the audio in the past we had never been able to confirm that it was Laurie Fine. Part of it was we had no independent video of her and her voice – something we could look at and say, “Yes, that’s her and yes, that appears to be her voice.”

So why did it take eight years for ESPN to do what a local Syracuse outlet did immediately after receiving the tape?

Because ESPN never contacted Laurie Fine. Not in eight years. Not even after it finally broke the story two weeks ago!

The only attempt by ESPN to ever contact any member of the Fine family came after it broke the story in 2011 - and even then ESPN didn’t reach out to the Fines directly.

Doria:

At the same time we felt we really wanted to go to the Fines [in 2011 after ESPN broke the story]and present this evidence to them and give them the opportunity to respond in order to be as fair as possible. We tried on several occasions to contact Fine’s lawyer and the communications representative for the law firm got back to us and listened to our request where we told him we had some new information that we wanted to present to the Fines to get their side of the story and he promised to get back to us but never did.

If Vince Doria’s newsgathering organization did, at the very least, attempt to contact Laurie Fine or her husband directly it would now most certainly report that fact.

While the Post-Standard also errored by not reporting the story in 2003 - or providing the tape to police at the time - at the very least it reached out to Laurie Fine directly who, “ … admitted to phone conversations with Davis, confirmed portions of the recording were accurate, suggested the tape had been doctored ...”

Not only did ESPN place children in peril after it did not report an audio tape of Laurie Fine acknowledging her husband’s molestation of a child - and more victims - to the police in 2003, ESPN showed gross journalistic negiligence by not trying to directly contact the Fines before deciding to bury the story at that time.


Add in ESPN’s wildly disingenious “lack of corroboration” and “voice verification” defense for not publishing the story in 2003, and leaving out the tapes from its initial story 2011, and we are surely witnessing the darkest moment in sports journalism history.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Share This

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Urban Meyer discusses notion of running 2-QB system

Report: Tiger Woods to practice at Augusta

Did Jerry Jones want enough cap room to add Peterson?

Robert Kraft testifies, recalls conversation with Hernandez

Phil Jackson issues message of hope to season ticket holders

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Heart attack prompted Armstead's retirement from Pats

MLBPA reacts to Kris Bryant's minor league assignment

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

WATCH: Shaq rips Lakers, Clippers during Bieber roast

Can we envision the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Finals?

Bettor to win $1M if Michigan State wins national title

Five NFL coaches already on the hot seat

WATCH: Stars' Patrik Nemeth catches puck inside visor

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

University of California soccer player found dead

Joe Namath parties with twin 100 year-old women

WATCH: Mike Napoli hits home run as bat shatters

WATCH: Marc Gasol misses shot, rips jersey in disgust

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Tiger's plane spotted in Augusta

Can we envision the Hawks in the Finals?

Five coaches already on the hot seat

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.