With a third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, coming forward to interview with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Wednesday morning, yet another chapter was opened in the continually unfolding Bernie Fine saga. Tomaselli, 23, who now lives in Lewiston, Maine, claims Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002 when he was 13 years old.
The most apparent implication of the new allegations is that Pennsylvania state law allows for the prosecution of some sex criminals up until the alleged victim’s 50th birthday. So though the accusations put forth by former ball boys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang are outside the statute of limitations in the state of New York, Fine now faces the possibility of prosecution in Pennsylvania.
Syracuse students voice mixed reactions in the face of these new allegations.
“It’s obviously not a good thing, but it’s not horrible,” pre-med freshman Jack Kennell said.
A life-long Syracuse fan and Buffalo, N.Y. native, Kennell distinctly separates the accusations against Fine from SU as a whole.
“It’s a coach; it has nothing to do with students or teachers,” he asserts.
Kennell anticipates serious consequences like "serious jail time" for Fine.
Illustration freshman Juliana Meddick puts it simply. “He’s screwed," she said.
Other students however, are more hesitant.
Pointing to Tomaselli’s father denying his son’s claims, aerospace engineering freshman Jacob Mullen said, “I think the father is trying to reserve judgment like the rest of us are until all the facts come out.”
Mullen also claims his support of the program may waiver depending on the ever-unfolding news.
“Half the reason I chose to come to Syracuse was the sports...[the allegations] make me rethink my allegiance to the team,” he notes.
“There’s still a lot of questions to be answered about this case,” Mullen said.
Yet the significance of the case crossing state borders is not lost on acting freshman Amanda Rojas, who feels the latest testimony raises the stakes.
She, too, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“If there’s evidence then it’s gonna become pretty black and white," she says. Either it happened or it didn’t.”
US Secret Service and Attorney General’s office both searched Fine’s office at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center Wednesday morning. Pittsburgh police have promised to cooperate with the Syracuse Police Department’s investigation.
No. 3 Syracuse (7-0, 5-0 home) hosts No. 9 Florida (5-1, 2-1 road) Friday at 7 p.m.
UPDATE Tomaselli appeared in court in Auburn, Maine Thursday regarding allegations that he molested a 13 year-old boy at a summer camp at which he worked last year. He faces 11 different charges of molestation and is currently trying to have what he claims was coerced testimony, dismissed. Tomaselli and his lawyer are claiming that the detective who interrogated him mislead him about the law concerning his case, leading him to falsely confess.
Tomaselli has also stated that molestations by his father and Fine have clouded his perception of what is a proper relationship between a man and a child. He is presently receiving counseling on the matter.
Information from a Dec. 1 AP article appearing in the Post-Standard was used in this update.
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