A Maine man claims he made up allegations of sexual abuse against Bernie Fine at the direction of a man who brought the first allegations against the former Syracuse assistant basketball coach.
Zach Tomaselli, who is set to begin a 39-month prison sentence for sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy in Maine, said his tale about being molested in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room while on a trip with the basketball team was fabricated by Bobby Davis.
Tomaselli’s allegations came shortly after Davis and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, revealed to ESPN in November that they were allegedly molested by Fine while working as ball boys for the team in the 1980s.
"It has become a burden of a lie and I am sick of it. Bobby Davis told me what to tell detectives and it pretty much took off from there," Tomaselli wrote in an email to CNY Central of Syracuse.
"The evidence that supports me is just pure luck, not real evidence. I made the ENTIRE thing up. I have never met Bernie in my life."
Tomaselli, 23, now maintains he was motivated to lie based on his dislike of the Syracuse basketball team, who defeated his favorite team, Kansas, in the 2003 NCAA Tournament final.
"It was a game to me. It was fun trying to make this story come alive," he told the station in a phone call.
"I was told by Bobby Davis what kind of porn Bernie likes. So I would add we were watching lesbian porn and going on and on. But, it didn’t pan out because of my school records, there was a hole I didn’t fill."
A New York state district attorney said authorities found school records indicating Tomaselli was in school on the day he claimed to be in Pittsburgh. Tomaselli’s father had also said at the time that the story was made up.
Davis, whose allegations were deemed credible by authorities but not prosecuted because of the statute of limitations, told ESPN on Friday he never coached Tomaselli on what to tell police.
"I never said anything like that at all to the kid," Davis said. "I just spoke to him a couple minutes. There were like two phone calls between us and they lasted a total of three to four minutes."
Davis maintains he was skeptical of Tomaselli’s claims from the start because he could not identify key details, such as players who were on the team.
"He kept changing his story. … I said, ‘You just need to call the police.’ I called back and asked him if he called the police and he said, ‘no one answered.’ I said, "no one answered?’"
Davis and Lang have filed a defamation lawsuit against Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for initially stating that the two men were lying and motivated by money.
The 66-year-old Fine was fired by Syracuse in late November, but has maintained all of the allegations are false.