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.