Federal authorities have decided to drop their criminal investigation into the Bernie Fine sex abuse case.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, several men claimed that Fine, Syracuse University's former assistant basketball coach, similarly molested them when they were children, reports CBS News.
However, after a nearly year-long investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office found that there was not enough evidence to support the claims, and so they dropped the case.
Two former Syracuse ballboys, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, first came forward and accused Fine of fondling them as children from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. However, because the claims by the former ballboys happened so long ago, federal authorities could not prosecute the claims.
A third man, Zachary Tomaselli, then stepped forward and made similar claims about Fine molesting him as a child. This time the alleged acts happened in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room.
When Tomaselli reported these allegations, he was only 23 years old. Because the federal statute of limitations allows prosecution of child sex-abuse claims until the victim turns 25, authorities finally had a charge against Fine that they could pursue.
But from the start, there were doubts about Tomaselli's story. Tomaselli himself was convicted of sexually abusing a boy at a summer camp, and he is currently serving time in prison, according to CBS News. But before he went to prison, Tomaselli made a series of claims about being abused by Fine before later recanting them; he then backtracked again and said he stood by his original molestation claims.
With wavering claims by a convicted sex offender, prosecutors faced an uphill battle in building a case for a crime that allegedly happened a decade ago.
Prosecutors may have found that Tomaselli was not a credible enough witness to win the case. And with any physical evidence likely lost or destroyed since 2002, prosecutors likely did not have enough to go after Fine. As a result, the case was dropped. There's no word on whether Fine will return to coaching.
- U.S. Attorney's office closes investigation of Fine (Fox News)
- Ex-Syracuse Coach Bernie Fine's Wife to Sue ESPN for Libel (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Jerry Sandusky Sentenced to at Least 30 Years, Plans to Appeal (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)