NCAA BK

Suit vs. Syracuse, Boeheim is tossed

Share This Story

   
 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)

A judge on Friday threw out a defamation lawsuit brought against Syracuse University and men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim by two men who said the Hall of Fame coach slandered them when he said their accusations of sexual abuse against former associate head coach Bernie Fine were driven by greed.

Two former team ball boys, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, accused Fine of sexually abusing them more than 20 years ago.

When the allegations surfaced in November, Boeheim vehemently supported Fine, a friend for more than 40 years and his assistant for 35-plus seasons. Boeheim told ESPN that Davis was telling ''a bunch of a thousand lies'' and called him an opportunist looking to cash in on the publicity surrounding the Penn State sex-abuse scandal.

Supreme Court Justice Brian DeJoseph, a graduate of Syracuse University and its law school, ruled Friday that Boeheim's comments were not statements of fact but were opinions that are protected from defamation suits.

''The content, tone and purpose of Boeheim's statements would clearly signal to the reasonable reader that what was being said in the articles published in the days after the initial ESPN report were likely to be an opinion — a biased, passionate, and defensive point of view of a basketball coach — rather than objective fact,'' DeJoseph wrote in his 30-page decision. ''It is clear to this court that Boeheim provided a factual basis for his opinion. He provided a ... reasonably accurate version of those facts.''

Davis, 40, and Lang, 45, hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred and filed the lawsuit in late December. Late Friday, Allred vowed to appeal the ruling

''When Bobby Davis came forward years ago and complained about sexual abuse he was ignored,'' Allred said in an email statement. ''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.''

A call seeking comment from Davis was not immediately returned.

''We are gratified by the court's decision dismissing this lawsuit,'' university spokesman Kevin Quinn said.

Boeheim, who was out of town attending meetings in Indianapolis, declined to comment through the university's sports information office. A call to his attorney, Timothy Murphy, was not immediately returned.

Victims advocates reacted angrily to Boeheim's initial comments and called for him to resign or be fired. He apologized twice within a week of Fine's firing on Nov. 27, saying he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers. He said he based his initial comments on a 2005 university investigation that failed to corroborate Davis' claims.

The claims by Davis and his stepbrother happened too long ago to be investigated because the statute of limitations has expired. The US attorney's office began an investigation after a third man, 23-year-old Zachary Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine, came forward and said he had been abused by Fine. Tomaselli has since admitted he was lying and been jailed on his own sexual abuse conviction. There has been no announcement about the status of that investigation.

Fine, 66, hasn't been charged and has denied wrongdoing. He was hired two weeks ago as a US-based consultant for a team in the Israeli Basketball Super League.

The lawsuit was originally filed in New York City because Davis and Lang didn't believe they could get a fair trial given Boeheim's high standing in the Syracuse community. But DeJoseph said the two men didn't provide sufficient proof that jurors here would be biased.

Tagged: Syracuse, South Carolina Upstate, Bobby Davis

Related Stories



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..