DA on Bernie Fine accusers: Davis and Lang are credible

DA's news conference on Bernie Fine / Michael Benny

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says two of the men who have accused former Syracuse University Associate Head Basketball Coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, are credible but the crimes are too old to be prosecuted.

DA Fitzpatrick says based on a number of criteria and his office's combined 150 years of experience in dealing with sexual abuse victims, his office has determined the allegations of both men are credible and would hold up in court.

To back up his claims further, Fitzpatrick says his office has interviewed someone with "intimate knowledge" of the Fine household that left "little doubt" about what was going on in the house.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said his investigation into the claims against fired coach Bernie Fine started out to answer several questions, among them: Were the first two accusers, Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Michael Lang, being truthful?

"On almost every single criteria, Bobby Davis came out as a credible person," the district attorney said. "Mike Lang also comes across as a credible person."

Fitzpatrick, when asked about the infamous taped phone conversation between Davis and Fine's wife, Laurie, said it will be authenticated by federal authorities. He said the significance of the audio tape "cannot be overstated". Fitzpatrick also stated that the tape had not been shared with the Syracuse Police Department or the DA's office until recently.

Fitzpatrick also apologized to Davis, saying "I'm sorry it took so long." He went on to tell Davis he wished he had met Davis back in 2002 so he could have investigated his claims. He prasied Davis, saying he was "fighting for other kids."

A third man, Zach Tomaselli, has also accused Fine of abuse. Tomaselli's claims fall within federal statutes of limitations and are being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

Fitzpatrick said he has turned over school records and team travel records that may call into question Tomaselli's claim that Fine abused him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel when the team played a road game there. He called the records "exculpatory," which is evidence that helps the defense.

Fitzpatrick also addressed the investigation undertaken by Syracuse University in 2005 regarding Bobby Davis' claims. He called the investigation, which Syracuse University turned over to local law firm Bond, Schoeneck and King, "inadequate."

He went on to say that SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor made a mistake trusting the firm's report. He says had a more thorough investigation been undertaken at the time by his office, Fine would have been arrested for sexual abuse in 2005.

Fitzpatrick said that, "Syracuse University is going to be just fine."

He said it was wrong to make any comparison to the sex scandal at Penn State University that cost legendary football coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier their jobs. "It's not only inaccurate, it's not fair," Fitzpatrick said.

Fine is accused of sexually molesting three young boys. Federal investigators recently searched Fine's home, office, locker, and banks.

The search warrants released by the United States Magistrate Judge Andrew Baxter detailed a laundry list of electronics seized from the home, office and safety deposit boxes of Fine by law enforcement under the direction of Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Clymer.

Earlier this month, Fitzpatrick gave a glimpse into the investigation Syracuse University did in 2005 related to Bobby Davis' accusations of molestation against Bernie Fine. Fitzpatrick has told the New York Times that there is nothing in the report to indicate that any of the lawyers involved in the inquiry had "an expertise in investigating sexual abuse."

Bill Fitzpatrick subpoenaed the police records involved in the investigation from the Syracuse Police in late November. The subpoena helped expose what Fitzpatrick called a rift between the City of Syracuse and the District Attorney's Office. Fitzpatrick accused the police department of sabotaging the investigation . Mayor Stephanie Miner then accused Fitzpatrick of personal and professional attacks .

Click here for part two of Fitzpatrick's news conference.

In the interest of full disclosure, Bond, Schoeneck and King has provided legal council to Barrington Syracuse LLC, owner and operator of CNY Central, its station and its website. Additionally, CNY Central anchor Jackie Robinson's husband is an attorney with Bond, Schoeneck and King.