Bernie Fine fired

The child rape accusations against Syracuse University’s Bernie Fine have not gotten as much attention as the case against Jerry Sandusky. The media can only handle one such case at a time, and it will report on that case until people get so sick of it that they no longer want to hear anything remotely like it for a while.

However, with Fine’s firing and an eight-year-old audio recording that changed. About Fine’s firing:

Bernie Fine was fired Sunday by Syracuse University after a 10-year-old voice recording of his wife emerged in which she acknowledges alleged sexual abuse and a third man accused the assistant basketball coach of molesting him nine years ago.

“At the direction of Chancellor (Nancy) Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately,” Kevin Quinn, the school’s senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

Jim Boeheim, head coach of Syracuse’s basketball program, stated that he supported the decision. However, this comes after Boeheim blasted the young men who accused Fine of molesting them. In his initial response Boeheim stated:

The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money. […] He’s tried before. And now he’s trying again. If he gets this, he’s going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I’d say about $50 million. That’s what this is about. Money.

Boeheim now states:

The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. […] I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.

Boeheim may end up like Joe Paterno, although not for the same reasons. Paterno got ousted because he knew about McQueary allegedly witnessing Sandusky raping a child and reported it to his superiors, but no one contacted the police. In Boeheim’s case, he came across as insensitive and indifferent. He may get ousted just to save face.

As for the recording, that occurred several years ago in 2002. It was a call between Bobby Davis, the man accusing Fine of abuse, and Fine’s wife Laurie. During the call Laurie admits that Bernie abused Bobby, stating:

No I don’t. I just think, I think there might have been others. but it was geared to you. There was something about you…

There was also this exchange:

Laurie: When (the Fine’s son) was little and you lived there, he’d say, ‘You better put (their son) to bed.’ I’d say, ‘He is in bed.’ ‘Well, you better go check him.’ And I’d go up to check him. I’d come down. He’d be out of the living room in the basement. He used to think of ways to get me out of the room. Like, I’m not an idiot, Bernie.

Bobby: Exactly. When I stayed there in your basement, he’d come down there every night. I’m like, what the heck, what’s Laurie thinking?

Laurie: What did I think? … And then he’d come down to where you were every night. And he’d say to me, ‘Go check (their son).’ Or… Go lay with him. Go upstairs.’ Anything to get me out of the room. And I knew. I told you when I was walking down the stairs at night, I’d say to myself, Guaranteed he’s not in there. When I’d look in, his papers would be spread out all over and he’d be gone. Right down the basement, door closed.

Bobby: He did that every night.

Laurie: You know what, go to a place where there’s gay boys. Find yourself a gay boy. … Get your rocks off, and have it be over with. He needs that male companionship that I can’t give him. …

Bobby: You know how he’d always try to get me in the shower. You knew about that, right?

Laurie: Yeah. I still have a graphic memory of that, thank you.

It is worth noting that here is a case where a woman not only suspects abuse, but is aware of it to the point that she would check on her husband, yet not only did not she report it to the police or put an end to it, but she also went on to have an affair with the boy she believed her husband abused:

Davis said when he was eighteen, he and Fine’s wife had a sexual affair. And something Laurie says in the recorded phone conversation also alludes to it:

L. FINE: The issue at hand is he had no business doing what he did with you.

DAVIS: In retrospect, I, I….

L. FINE: You know what, and neither did I, because I really helped screw you up a little more, too…

Let that be an example for all the people who thought that no woman would stand by and allow someone to rape a boy.

There is also a third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, who alleges that in 2002 Fine abused him. However, Tomaselli has a problem: he is charged with molesting a 14-year-old boy. Tomaselli’s father accuses his son of lying and claims that he was never allowed his son to go to Pittsburgh with Fine.

This new allegation could be a problem for the prosecutors because Davis and Lang’s cases may be too old to prosecute. Tomaselli’s case occurred within the last ten years, yet it would be very easy for a defense attorney to say that Tomaselli made the accusation against Fine in order to protect himself in his own case. This goes back to what happened with Strauss-Kahn’s accuser. Once your credibility is in question, there is no way the state can risk putting you on the stand, especially in a high-profile case.

Unlike the Sandusky case, this case is more typical of how things play out. It shows how easily people without can ignore or rationalize abuse, how they can know it is wrong yet do nothing about it. It also shows that abusers are not always clear cut. According to Davis and Laurie, Fine attempted to continue his “relationship” with Davis long after Davis was an adult. People need to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all scenario. Each abuser is different, and each victim’s response is different.

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16 thoughts on “Bernie Fine fired

  1. The more I see of breaking news, the more I wonder If it’s just the tip of the iceberg, or the final melt water?

    Is it that child sexual abuse of boys is being uncovered at last, or is it just the final bastions of cover up being stormed and the truth coming out?

    What worries me most is, If I’m asking those questions, who in the media is asking the same questions – and will there be journalists, media and editorial fatigue to deal with in the future?

    All too often they see the subject as over once the news cycle moves on – and that has all too often allowed a great deal to be covered up and to be allowed to continue.

    I hope that there will be sufficient interest to find out why Laurie Fine apparently knew what was happening and did so little. It may have to wait a long time, and even be an exclusive interview on prime time – but I do hope that the media will not forget to ask the right questions of the right persons.

    I have already seen comment that the only excuse for her conduct is spousal abuse. There is no evidence of this, but it is already indicated to be fact.

    Public domain evidence gets trumped by supposition.

  2. “Spousal abuse?” That’s a stretch. Especially considering she admits to having sex with the boy herself. That was her choice not her husbands. And where’s the DA’s investigation?

    Sandusky’s wife seems to be getting the kid-glove treatment from the press too. She must have known of her husband’s sexual preferences for young boys. He was having sex with them right under her nose in her own basement. She even called a victim to try to influence his testimony before he appeared before the Grand Jury.

    The only reason male victims of child sexual abuse are even mentioned in the press is because the scandals, the Catholic Church & Penn State, are just to big to ignore.

    Laurie Fine and Dottie Sandusky will likely go unquestioned. And boys as victims and females as enablers and/or perpetrators will fade away at the end of the Sandusky news cycle.

  3. I’ve been wondering how this is going to be covered… This one seems just too complex for our media to deal with, and the certainty to anger a lot of people by appearing to confirm the vampire myth, empower an opportunist sex offender (Tomaselli) or show sympathy for one, abuse the notion women never do this sort of thing or are complicit, suggest that abuse is sometimes so common that all of it might be true or just show that sometimes we just don’t know for certain key details of what happened. I see Tomaselli claims being abused by his father for close to 10 years.

  4. The more I see of breaking news, the more I wonder If it’s just the tip of the iceberg, or the final melt water?

    Is it that child sexual abuse of boys is being uncovered at last, or is it just the final bastions of cover up being stormed and the truth coming out?

    I think it is that we are finally seeing the child abuse of boys for what it is. This happens far more often than we think, and now that there is more media coverage and slightly more outreach, more boys and men are coming forward.

  5. Allan, I think we will probably see the coverage wind down. It has only been a couple of weeks since the Sandusky case broke, and already the media coverage has died down. I cannot imagine the Syracuse case will get more coverage.

  6. Rev, I imagine that the prosecutors might cut a deal with Sandusky’s wife in order to nail him. That tends to happen in most cases, even when the women participated in or even initiated the abuse.

  7. I don’t like all of this attention given to the rape of boys.

    It distracts us from the horror of how too many white girls on college campuses are unable to remain perfectly safe after they’ve passed-out naked on the frat house lawn after downing too many jello-shots.

    Where in God’s name are our priorities?!?

  8. Toysoldier said: “Unlike the Sandusky case, this case is more typical of how things play out. It shows how easily people without can ignore or rationalize abuse, how they can know it is wrong yet do nothing about it.”

    There are big questions as to why Laurie Fine enabled. There are big questions about who in the Sandusky household was aware and enabled. From the rolling investigations on Clergy Abuse, are there other examples of potential and actual enablers from the victims families that need to be cross correlated?

    There is to be a week of clergy abuse publications covering Ireland and Northern Ireland. The first reports for Raphoe are out today – and more to follow for other places. I am aware that many parents were aware of issues and did little nothing, out of fear of criticizing the catholic church – and I know of cases going back to the 1930’s.

    There is a big focus on the failures in the institution and individual acts – but little if any indication of “enablers” and their behaviors and how they are part of the problem.

  9. As for why this is coming out now…

    During all these “media events” around male CSA, we’ve seen silent victims come forward, the hotlines light up, and membership at support web sites jump.

    We are everywhere….

    In my experience, yes, a LOT of men have been abused sexually as boys. We know that scientifically. And when they see evidence that people take it seriously, when the victims are not further abused, when people say things that are consistent with what they feel and experience and not shaming, then a lot of them want to heal and will start to talk about it.

    How rare that is though. Victim 1 was bullied out of school and not protected. It wasn’t widely covered but he and his mother got a lot of hostility and blame directed at them and little support. Et cetera. Tyler Perry said it so well: He’s really a hero extraordinaire.

  10. There is a big focus on the failures in the institution and individual acts – but little if any indication of “enablers” and their behaviors and how they are part of the problem.

    That is because people do not like to deal with it. Sometimes people do report the abuse and nothing happens. But many times they just assume someone else will step in, and so they do nothing. In the case of people like Laurie, I imagine there is an element of resentment at play. Those women may be more angry that they got “cheated on” than that their mates are abusing children.

  11. Allan, when big cases like these make news, there are often a lot of men and boys who come forward. As you said, that shows that male victims are not rare; they just do not talk about it because they do not think anyone will care. Once they see that some people will listen, more come forward.

  12. I am still concerned that when it comes to the analysis of abuse there is such great focus upon;

    1) The conduct of abusers
    2) Institutional failure
    3) The people abused

    There is a wide social context here, and it assumes that all other people are stupid, blind and anti-social.

    There is little to information or investigation of people who know the abuser and enable. That could be spouse, other family member such as parent or sibling – in fact anyone who has knowledge, no matter how slight, and who turns a blind eye or even allows it all in full sight.

    This failure simply allows the gap to be filled with supposition. If the Sandusky evidence so far (grand jury) should prove valid, it is inconceivable that member’s of the Sandusky household had no inkling of issues. More so after 2002.

    If you take an extra-marital affair as a parallel – I am as yet to ever come across a situation where at least one person did not have an inkling or even direct knowledge.

    There is this “Myth” of The Lone Abuser, Secretive, Furtive and so capable of concealment it’s a wonder that the CIA and other security agencies are not using them as Training Facilitators for operatives world wide.

  13. Mediahound, people do not like to confront these kinds of issues. The closer things are to people’s regular lives, the more blurred the line becomes. It is easier for people to turn the focus onto others rather than look at themselves and ask whether they have ignored clear signs of abuse.

  14. Toysoldier – I am aware of people’s aversion to the looking when it’s close to home. I’m wondering why there has been so little “Study” of it, and as it were, strategies developed to contend with it.

    I’ve been trawling a great deal of literature – and it’s an area that just has not been covered. It’s mentioned in passing – explanations are applied drawing on assumptions from known and unrelated study – but the actual studies just have not been done.

    I’m wondering if there is not just that social and scientific blind spot at work – The terrible “They” believe they know the issue and answers, so it does not get checked or looked into.

  15. May I say something here?

    There’s a whole literature around “bystander intervention” that I like. Do you know about that? For example: http://www.nsvrc.org/publications/nsvrc-publications/engaging-bystanders-sexual-violence-prevention . Something called the red-dot campaign I think. Stop it Now produced: http://www.projectpathfinder.org/UploadFile/57/LetsTalk.PDF. Unfortunately all the examples support the male perp/female victim situation in the PDF but we could quickly correct that. And many would.

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