Fine accuser Tomaselli pleads guilty to sex charges in Maine
Wed, 21 Dec 2011 11:28:10 GMT —
A man who accused former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of molesting him pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexually abusing a teenage boy in an agreement that caps his sentence at just over three years in prison.
Zach Tomaselli, 23, had been due in court for a hearing on whether he violated his bail conditions by giving a minor a ride. Instead, the Lewiston resident pleaded guilty to gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and two other sex-related counts, while seven other counts were dropped.
Defense lawyer Justin Leary said he and Tomaselli were "looking forward" to the sentencing hearing.
"He's been ready to take responsibility, and that's a fair way to resolve it," Leary said.
The plea agreement calls for a 12-year sentence, but the bulk of that will be suspended, limiting the judge to a maximum penalty of 3 years and 3 months, Leary said. Tomaselli will be free on bail pending sentencing in February, Leary added.
Tomaselli, who says Fine molested him in a hotel room in Pittsburgh in 2002, is one of four men to level sexual-abuse accusations against Fine. Two former ballboys in the 1980s and a man who's now in prison also say Fine molested them.
Fine has denied wrongdoing but was fired by the upstate New York university.
Tomaselli initially pleaded not guilty but later admitted that he sexually abused the boy in Maine when the victim was 13 and 14 years old. Tomaselli worked as a counselor at a camp the boy attended.
After counseling, Tomaselli said he understands that he was grooming the boy for a relationship. He said he intends to get help.