Ex-Syracuse asst. basketball coach to file suit agains ESPN

Posted at 9:00 AM, Mar 30, 2013

(CNN) — Axed Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine intends to file a defamation suit against ESPN over its previous reporting that he sexually abused young boys.

Four people accused Fine of molesting them, including stepbrothers and former Syracuse ball boys Mike Lang and Bobby Davis, who in 2011 accused the coach of molesting them over several years.

Fine, who served as assistant basketball coach at Syracuse for 35 years, maintained his innocence throughout the investigations.

In November 2011, ESPN reported the existence of a recording of a 2002 phone conversation that the network said Davis recorded between him and Laurie Fine, the coach’s wife. In the tape, a woman — whom ESPN, citing experts, said was Laurie Fine — said she knew “everything that went on” with her husband.

Bernie Fine was fired from his position as assistant basketball coach the same day those reports aired.

After a yearlong investigation following ESPN’s reporting, federal prosecutors did not file any criminal charges against Fine, citing insufficient evidence.

While two other accusers later admitted they had fabricated their allegations, ESPN stood firm in its reporting.

“We stand by our reporting and we don’t comment on pending litigation,” ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz said Friday.

A court document filed in November 2012 in Onondaga County, New York, says Fine will sue for defamation seeking undefined damages against ESPN; ESPN reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Arthur “Arty” Berko; and The Hearst Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, which together own ESPN.

Calls to Fine’s lawyer, Richard Sullivan, were not returned Friday.

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