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DA: No state charges in Fine case due to statute of limitations

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: DA: No state charges in Fine case due to statute of limitations
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The U.S. Attorney's office continues its investigation of sexual abuse allegations against former SU associate basketball coach Bernie Fine. The Onondaga County District Attorney, William Fitzpatrick, was blocked from a lead role in the case. But as YNN's Bill Carey reports, Fitzpatrick still proceeded with his own review and now has made his findings public.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- The District Attorney's message at a mid morning news conference was simple.

“Bobby, I'm sorry it took so long. I wish I had met you as a prosecutor in 2002. Even more importantly, wish I had met you as a prosecutor back in the 1980s. We wouldn't be here today,” Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said his own review found the stories told by Bobby Davis and his step-brother, Michael Lang, to be believable, but unprosecutable.

“But for the obvious problem of the statute of limitations, their allegations would have resulted in the arrest of Bernie Fine at least for the misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in the third degree,” Fitzpatrick said.

As for a third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, the story was different. The DA saying he would forward to defense attorneys some information he had gathered that may put Tomaselli's claims in question.

Fitzpatrick said, “I have to turn over exculpatory material, material that tends to indicate either that the accuser is not telling the truth or that there is something beneficial to the defense. I don't turn over things other than that.”

The D-A brushed aside claims of a cover up by the man who led Syracuse Police in 2002, Dennis DuVal, a former Syracuse University basketball player. He says DuVal acted properly based on the available evidence.

The DA's also reviewed a report prepared by attorneys for Syracuse University after they got wind of the claims in 2005.

Sources with access to the 2005 SU report have told YNN that the effort back then seemed to be to clear Bernie Fine's name rather than to get to the bottom of any sexual abuse charge. Fitzpatrick seemed to concur.

“Simply put, this investigation was inadequate. There was little, if any, intellectual curiosity exhibited in the report in terms of follow up, developing corroborating evidence, developing new leads or new witnesses, exploring a number of red flags that were raised in Bernie Fine's statement, not personally interviewing perhaps a corroborating witness to Bobby Davis' story, among other things,” Fitzpatrick said.

The DA denied he had been tipped to the case nine years ago and also defended long time friend, SU head coach Jim Boeheim, from claims the coach tried to protect Fine.

As for the future of the University and its basketball program?

“They're going to be just, they're going to be just fine,” Fitzpatrick said.


Watch DA William Fitzpatrick's news conference:

CNY/NNY/S. Tier: DA: No state charges in Fine case due to statute of limitations
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