Syracuse, NY -- Bernie Fine, the assistant Syracuse basketball coach who is the subject of a Syracuse police investigation into charges of molestation, released a statement today to the media denying the charges leveled against him.
The statement was released about 3:20 p.m. today by Karl J. Sleight, a partner with Harris Beach law office in Albany.
"Simply put, these allegations are patently false in every aspect. The fact is these allegations have been thoroughly investigated multiple times. When evaluating the veracity of these accusations, please keep in mind that credible media outlets were approached in the past to publicize these false allegations and declined to do so.
I fully cooperated with all past inquires. "Sadly, we live in an allegation-based society and an internet age where in a matter of minutes one's life long reputation can be severely damaged. I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation. I hope the latest review of these allegations will be conducted expeditiously.
"Finally, I appreciate the Chancellor's statement that I should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend myself against these accusations. I fully intend to do so. There should never be a rush to judgment when someone's personal integrity and career are on the line."
Syracuse University says they have placed longtime Fine on administrative leave following the accusations of sexual molestation.
ESPN reports that the team's former ballboy, now 39-years old, says Fine molested him for more than a dozen years beginning in 1983 when he was about to enter the seventh grade.
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The alleged victim told ESPN's Outside the Lines he never told head coach Jim Boeheim about the abuse and initially reported it to Syracuse police in 2003 and that police told him too much time had passed to pursue it
Syracuse University confirms they were informed of the allegation in 2005, and its own investigation found nothing.
ESPN reports a second victim has also come forward and accused Fine of sexual abuse and that police are in the early stages of the investigation.
2 On Your Side's Dave McKinley is in Syracuse and says a large media contingent has gathered outside Fine's home in nearby Fayetteville.
Kevin Quinn, Syracuse's senior vice president for public affairs, issued a statement on behalf of the school before it was announced that Fine had been put on leave:
"In 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach. The alleged activity took place in the 1980's and 1990's. We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
"On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations.
"Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associated coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community."
Fine has been an assistant at Syracuse for 35 years.