When the third person to accuse former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse, Zach Tomaselli, came forward Sunday, his father said he was a liar. Tomaselli’s father said they had never met Bernie Fine and had only sat in nosebleed seats at games. Zach Tomaselli said he traveled with Fine on a trip to Pittsburgh.
The Kansas State Collegian News has a story on Tomaselli, who is scheduled to attend the University next fall and lived in Salina, According to Zach Tomaselli, he and his father first met Bernie Fine at an autograph session on campus before the start of the season. Later, Fine contacted the parents and offered an opportunity for him to join the team on the road trip. Tomaselli said that his parents dropped him off to board a bus full of Syracuse support staff.
It was on that trip that Tomaselli alleges the abuse first occurred, beginning with Fine turning on pornography and then explaining ejaculation to him. Tomaselli also alleges that “his father had been abusing him for months, and because of that Fine’s actions seemed appropriate.”
Earlier this year, Tomaselli reported the abuse by his father. According to Tomaselli, he waited until he thought the statute of limitations had run to not get his father in trouble. Tomaselli is also involved in his own legal trouble, having been accused of sexually abusing a 14-year old boy himself.
He told Anderson Cooper (via NY Daily News) that:
It is not an excuse for touching children, and I’m not saying I touched anybody, Anderson, but I am saying the situation I put myself in to be accused was because there was a great disconnect in my mind between what is an appropriate relationship between an adult and a child.
What a mess. Tomaselli claims to have proof that he was in Pittsburgh in 2002, contrary to his father’s claims. The fact that Tomaselli is involved in his own legal issues cuts both ways. Some will point to it to discredit as a witness. On the other hand, the cycle of abuse often turns victims to offenders (which doesn’t necessarily by itself mean the perp was one of the people mentioned here, without further evidence).
If Tomaselli has evidence he was in Pittsburgh in 2002 for a game at Bernie Fine’s invite, though, it has broader implications. I know Boeheim came out and said ball boys did not travel with the team. But if Fine was taking kids on a school-sanctioned bus, that raises other concerns.
Of course, the other concern is that Tomaselli originally contacted Colin Cowherd after hearing Davis’ story. Cowherd passed it to Mark Schwarz, who put Tomaselli in contact with Davis. It was the Post-Standard, not ESPN, who published the story about Tomaselli coming forward, after he had later spoken with Syracuse police, after initially contacting ESPN.
Previously: Syracuse Post-Standard Explains Their Decision Regarding the Laurie Fine Tape
Previously: Jim Boeheim: “I Supported A Friend, That’s What I Thought I Did”
Previously: Jim Boeheim Should Be Suspended, But Not Fired, At This Point
Previously: ESPN’s Role in the Bernie Fine Investigation is Troubling
[photo via Getty]
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