The State Supreme Court in Syracuse released its decision Friday afternoon regarding the motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University.
Judge Brian DeJoseph ruled to dismiss the case. DeJoseph ruled that Boeheim's comments were not statements of fact but were opinions that are protected from defamation suits.
High profile Syracuse Defense Attorney James McGraw tells CNY Central he is not surprised that the lawsuit was thrown out. "I didn't think the case had any merit I think it was a silly case," said McGraw. "It was merely an opinion, not based on any substantial facts. You have an opinion I have an opinion and most of the people in this community had an opinion about this lawsuit."
The conclusion of the decision reads: "The content, tone, and purpose of Boeheimâ??s statements would clearly signal to the reasonable reader, that what was being read in the articles published in the days after the initial ESPN report were likely to be an opinion â?? rather than objective fact. Thus, Plaintiffâ??s defamation claim against Boeheim fails as a matter of law."
Read the full decision.
In the body of the decision, Judge DeJoseph writes, "The Courtâ??s review of the statements established that they could not be constructed as defamatory, but rather constituted personal opinion and rhetorical hyperbole rather than objective fact. Therefore, they are constitutionally protected."
Kevin Quinn, Senior VP for Public Affairs at Syracuse University issued the following statement:
"We have had an opportunity to review the legal papers. We are gratified by the Court's decision dismissing this lawsuit."
In response to the court ruling, Attorney Glorida Allred, who is representing Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, issued the following:
"When Bobby Davis came forward years ago and complained about sexual abuse he was ignored. When the allegations were made public he was attacked. It is difficult enough for victims of childhood sexual abuse to come forward.
This decision sends the message that you can attack the alleged victim and call him a liar with impunity. It makes it even harder for victims to come forward. We will file an appeal and continue to fight."
Itâ??s been nearly six months since Davis and Lang accused former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse, setting off an eventful series of motions and claims.
Since November 2011, a federal investigation was launched including a search of Fineâ??s home, two other men accused Fine of sexual abuse and then recanted, a defamation lawsuit was filed against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University for calling Davis and Lang liars, and the defamation case was moved from New York City to Syracuse where it was dismissed.
Davis and Lang argued that Boeheim defamed them by calling them liars when they accused Fine of sexual abuse back in November. Davis and Lang claim that Boeheim knew or should have known about the abuse. In March, lawyers for Syracuse University and Boeheim filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Boeheim supported his longtime assistant when the accusations initially broke, calling Davis a liar and opportunist looking to cash in on the publicity surrounding the Penn State sex abuse scandal. Boeheim later apologized amid criticism from victims' rights advocates.
Attorneys for Davis and Lang argued that the motion to dismiss should be denied. Lawyers for Boeheim and SU say that Boeheimâ??s statements fall within his constitutional right to express his opinion.
Fine has denied any wrongdoing. The federal investigation into the allegations is still ongoing.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)