SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim said Tuesday that "what happened on my watch" will be revealed once police complete their inquiry into child molestation accusations against his former longtime assistant.
"I never worried about my job status in 36 years," Boeheim said at his first postgame news conference since Bernie Fine was fired Sunday. "I do my job. What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch."
Advocates for sex abuse victims said Boeheim should resign or be fired for adamantly defending Fine and verbally disparaging two former Syracuse ballboys who accused Fine of molesting them.
"Based on what I knew at that time, there were three investigations and nothing was corroborated," Boeheim said. "That was the basis for me saying what I said. I said what I knew at the time.
"I supported a friend," he added. "That's what I thought I did."
Fine has denied the allegations.
Boeheim received a standing ovation when he walked onto the court that bears his name for the game against Eastern Michigan, beaten by the Orange 84-48. Fine's seat on the bench wasn't vacant this time, though it was at the last home game 10 days ago.
Asked to comment on Boeheim's status earlier Tuesday, Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor said, "Coach Boeheim is our coach. … We're very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it."
After initially saying Fine's first two accusers were lying to make money in the wake of the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal, Boeheim backed off those comments.
"What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found," Boeheim said Sunday night. "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."
One of the accusers, Bobby Davis, first contacted Syracuse police in 2002 regarding Fine, but there was no investigation because the statute of limitations had passed. Kevin Quinn, a Syracuse spokesman, said police did not inform the university of Davis' allegations then.
On Tuesday, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said Dennis DuVal, a former SU basketball player who was police chief in 2002, knew of the allegations against Fine.
Fowler said DuVal, who played for the Orange from 1972-74, was aware of Davis' accusations in 2002 that Fine sexually abused him.
Because Davis said the abuse stopped 12 years earlier, Syracuse Det. Doug Fox told him the statute of limitations had passed, meaning an arrest was not possible. Fox advised his supervisor in the abused persons unit, but didn't file a formal report. The detective is still with the department, but not in the same unit.
A phone message left with DuVal was not immediately returned.
On Nov. 17, Davis' allegations resurfaced.
Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis said the abuse occurred at Fine's home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four. Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, also told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade.
But Boeheim said during his news conference that ballboys have never traveled with the team.
A third man, Zach Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said Sunday he told police last week that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. Also on Sunday, ESPN played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Fine's wife, Laurie. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine.
During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation and she says she knew "everything that went on."
"My heart goes out to the families. I have no comment about the Fine situation or the Boeheim situation," former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony said. "That's a sensitive situation, a sensitive topic right now that I don't even want to go into."
Cantor stressed the university is working with authorities.
"We've been very straightforward and candid about this whole process," she said. "We've gone through our due diligence when things came up, and we felt it was important both for Bernie Fine and for the university to move forward."
The chancellor has previously acknowledged that a man, now known to be Davis, contacted the school in 2005 with allegations against Fine. The school, which did not contact police, conducted its own investigation at that time but was unable to find any corroboration of the allegations. The university has turned over the results of the inquiry to the DA's office and has retained an independent law firm to review their procedures and response to those 2005 allegations.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Secret Service have taken the lead in the current investigation.
And Fowler said Syracuse police will change their procedures moving forward.
"I was not the chief in 2002 and I cannot change the procedures in place at that time or the way this matter was then handled," Fowler said in the statement. "But what I can and will do as chief today is ensure that moving forward all reports of sexual abuse are formally documented."
In an interview with the AP, Fowler said he wouldn't be notified about all sex abuse allegations. But in a high-profile case like the Fine investigation: "I'm very confident I would know about it. I'm sure it would be brought to my immediate attention."
The chief also said the department only notifies the district attorney when an arrest is made, not during the investigation phase. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has been sharply critical of the police for not sharing the information from the 2002 allegations or from the current investigation.
Fowler has ordered a review of all department policies regarding sexual abuse allegations made over the phone and will make changes if needed. A phone database now logs every call the department receives.
He gave this account of what the department knew, and when of the 2002 allegations:
– A local attorney called Det. Doug Fox of the Syracuse Police Department's Abused Persons Unit in 2002 to say that he'd be getting a call from a woman, now known to be Davis' friend Danielle Roach, who wanted to discuss a sexual abuse case.
– Several weeks later, Roach called Fox and said Fine had sexually abused her friend. Fox told her to tell her friend to contact him directly. About a month later, he called the detective from Utah. In what Fowler described as a brief conversation, Davis said Fine had sexually abused him while growing up and that the abuse had occurred at least 12 years earlier.
– Fox told him the statute of limitations had expired, so he couldn't make an arrest. Fox told Davis that if he wanted to meet in person or if he was aware of any current victims, he wanted Davis to share additional information. The two never met face to face.
– Fox notified his supervisor, and they decided that unless Davis met with the detective or provided names of other victims, then no investigation would be started. No formal report was prepared.
– Several months later, in 2003, the department received an inquiry from the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper as to whether an investigation had been conducted on Fine. The Post Standard was informed no investigation had taken place.
Fowler said the police department never met in person with any possible victim until Nov. 17 of this year and began its ongoing investigation on that day.
On that same day, Fowler said, the university handed over results of an internal 2005 investigation into sexual abuse charges against Fine; this was the first time Syracuse police learned of that inquiry.