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Syracuse's Bernie Fine Can't Be Charged for Alleged Molestation, DA Says

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 07, 2011 11:47 AM

Disgraced Syracuse men's basketball coach Bernie Fine cannot be charged for allegedly molesting two of the team's ball boys in the 1980s and 1990s, a New York prosecutor announced today.

The alleged victims' stories of abuse are probably true -- but the statute of limitations expired a long time ago, Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said.

He also criticized Syracuse police for not doing more when the victims first reported the crimes in 2002, USA Today reports.

Fine has denied all charges. He was fired as Syracuse's associate coach last month.

Two former ball boys, Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, have accused Syracuse's Bernie Fine of molesting them repeatedly when they were teenagers.

You can watch clips from the DA's news conference in this Associated Press report:

Fine's wife seemed to acknowledge Davis' abuse in a secretly recorded phone conversation that went public last week. That tape is so compelling, it proves Davis is telling the truth, Fitzpatrick asserted at a news conference Monday.

But New York's statute of limitations for child sexual abuse is five years, Fitzpatrick said. Otherwise, Davis and Lang's accusations "would have resulted in the arrest of Bernie Fine, at least for the misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in the third degree," Fitzpatrick said.

Fine's wife could also have been prosecuted for child endangerment, he said.

The DA apologized to Davis and Lang for not being able to prosecute Fine under state law. "I'm sorry it took so long. ... Let it be known you did the right thing," he said.

Fine, however, still faces a federal investigation in connection with a third alleged victim. That man, Zach Tomaselli, claims Fine molested him in a hotel in Pennsylvania in 2002.

Fitzpatrick said Tomaselli's claims against Syracuse's Bernie Fine are not true, and the DA's office will turn over "exculpatory evidence" to Fine's lawyers, The Post-Standard reports. Tomaselli is himself charged with molesting a boy in Maine.

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