Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/15/14
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Federal authorities have dropped their investigation into sexual abuse claims that cost a Syracuse University assistant basketball coach his job, threw a top-ranked team into turmoil and threatened the career of Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim. After a probe spanning nearly a year, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said Friday there was no evidence to support claims that Bernie Fine had molested a boy in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. “The nature and seriousness of these allegations, which involved conduct typically committed in private with individuals who are reluctant to come forward, warranted a thorough federal investigation,” Hartunian said. Fine’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment. It wasn’t clear yet whether Fine could get his job back. The investigation erupted in the glare of a spotlight on child abuse shone by the Penn State University scandal that broke shortly beforehand. Two former Syracuse ballboys, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, came forward Nov. 17 and accused the longtime assistant of fondling them when they were teens. Davis said the sexual contact continued for years. But the claims by Davis and Lang had happened too long ago to be prosecuted. Ten days later, though, a third man, 23-year-old Zachary Tomaselli, of Lewiston, Maine, went public with his accusation that Fine had molested him in 2002 in a hotel room when the team played in Pittsburgh. The same day, ESPN aired an audiotape in which Fine’s wife, Laurie, apparently acknowledged to Davis she knew about the molestation. Fine, who denied the allegations, was fired Nov. 27, and the federal government began investigating Tomaselli’s claim, the only one that fell within the statute of limitations. The federal statute of limitations that went into effect in 2002 allows prosecution until the victim reaches age 25; Tomaselli was 23 when he made his claims. From the start, there were doubts about the claims. Davis had made the same accusation against Fine to the university and Syracuse police a decade before, but the police couldn’t investigate because of the statute of limitations, and the school said its probe turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. When Davis and Lang came forward in November, Boeheim angrily defended his assistant of 35 years and said the accusers were only out for money, seeking to cash in on the publicity generated by the Penn State scandal, in which former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing several boys. Another accuser, Floyd Van Hooser, said Fine abused him for years but later said he was lying. That left Tomaselli, who was himself accused of sexually abusing a boy at a camp in 2010 and whose father had said the boy was lying. Tomaselli was eventually convicted of sexual abuse and started a prison sentence of three years and three months in April.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Giants dethrone Royals in Game 1 of World Series

Wife of Royals pitcher leaves World Series ticket as tip

Report: Chandler Jones to miss a month with hip injury

Lance Briggs left Bears' locker room to avoid the fighting

Could the Seahawks have gotten more for Percy Harvin?

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Favre delays Lambeau return due to Bart Starr’s health

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

Fan in critical condition after being beaten before Bears game

Ben Roethlisberger rips the media

Tim Tebow: Gators don't have offensive leadership, lack heart

Colts punter asks Antonio Brown not to kick him in face

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1 loss at World Series

Matt Flynn had a blast at Pearl Jam concert

Report: Back injury could end Nathan Horton's career

Report: Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups E – H

PHOTO: Fans place Manning’s 509 football in Hall of Fame

Jets sign Jeremy Kerley to $16M 4-year extension

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Lego stadiums: turning a childhood hobby into a business

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge' and 'sizzle'

Blackhawks make leukemia patient's dream come true

College football's post-Week 8 Playoff projection

Orange 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!

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report

Cowboys release Michael Sam

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge'

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Ben Roethlisberger rips media

NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Pistorius sentenced to five years

Lane Kiffin trashed in political ad

Details of War Machine's suicide letter leaked

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.