SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim ran a closed practice Monday as sex abuse victims’ advocates questioned whether he should still coach following the firing of longtime assistant Bernie Fine, who has been accused of molestation by three men.
As criticism swirled about Boeheim’s initial support of Fine and his verbal attacks on the accusers, the coach kept a low profile, seeking refuge in his office, and university trustees have remained largely silent.
Boeheim, who had been sharply critical of the accusers, has softened his stance 10 days after an impassioned defense of Fine, who spent 35 seasons on the bench next to Boeheim and was fired Sunday.
The Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, said the dismissal of Bernie Fine was appropriate but didn’t go far enough.
“I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well,” Hoatson said Monday. “These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim’s responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch.”
Two former Syracuse ball boys were the first to accuse Fine, who has called the allegations “patently false.” And a third man came forward last week, accusing Fine of molesting him nine years ago.
Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis told ESPN that the abuse occurred at Fine’s home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four. His stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.
Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, said Sunday he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said Fine touched him “multiple” times in that one incident. Tomaselli told the Associated Press he signed an affidavit accusing Fine following a meeting with Syracuse police last week in Albany.