Former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine has filed the initial paperwork to bring a defamation lawsuit against ESPN following his firing over a falsely reported sexual abuse scandal, according to USA Today.
In the court paperwork, Fine indicates he’ll sue for defamation and seek undefined damages. The “summons with notice” was filed Nov. 15, 2012, in state Supreme Court in Onondaga County and sat unreported until Thursday, when The Associated Press asked the court clerk for a copy.
After 35 years as an assistant at Syracuse under coach Jim Boeheim, Fine was unceremoniously fired from the Orange staff after three men went public with accusations stating that Fine sexually abused them as boys.
ESPN first reported those allegations on Nov. 17, 2011, and Fine was canned 10 days later.
Initially, coach Boeheim vehemently supported his friend and longtime assistant, and Fine has been adamant throughout that he never touched anyone in any sort of inappropriate manner.
A yearlong federal investigation in the sexual abuse claims leveled against Fine proved the former ‘Cuse assistant was indeed telling the truth — or did things so long ago that the investigators cannot press charges.
Two former ‘Cuse ballboys, Bobby Davis and his step-brother Michael Lang, came forward regarding being fondled as teenagers. However, both claims happened too long ago to be prosecuted. Thus, nothing moved forward until a third man, Zachary Tomaselli, went public with the fact that Fine molested him in a hotel room in 2002.
However, Tomaselli lied, pure and simple. There was no molestation and no hotel room. In fact, it was later discovered that Tomaselli himself has molested a boy in 2010 and now he’s the one in jail.
Now, Fine has opened himself up to the aforementioned, civil legal process. Besides ESPN, the Hearst Corporation and the Walt Disney Corporation, which jointly own ESPN, have been named as co-defendants in the case. Reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Arthur Berko have been named co-defendants as well.
Now 67 years old, Fine has been living in Florida. It has been impossible to find a job Stateside, but he has been hired on as a consultant for an Israeli basketball team.