Federal officials announced Friday they will not file charges against former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine. Authorities also said they have dropped the investigation into allegations Fine was a pedophile. Syracuse University fired Fine shortly after the claims surfaced on Nov. 17 of last year and the scandal threatened to permanently stain the legacy of longtime coach Jim Boeheim.
ESPN reported that U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian announced the inquiry would be dropped for a lack of evidence that Fine, 66, had sex with a young boy during a 2002 visit to Pittsburgh.
"The nature and seriousness of these allegations, which involved conduct typically committed in private with individuals who are reluctant to come forward, warranted a thorough federal investigation," Hartunian said.
The accusations began when two former ball boys for the Syracuse University basketball team alleged Fine began sexually abusing them when they were teens, an experience that continued for years. Zachary Tomaselli came forward ten days later saying he was cornered by Fine in a Pittsburgh hotel room.
The accusations were all the more damning because they came almost immediately after the news of the molestation and ensuing cover up at Penn State that rocked the country.
Despite a passionate defense from Boeheim, his for more than three decades, Fine was summarily fired from Syracuse and was forced into a life of near-solitude. He had to put his home on the market and had less than flattering details about his marriage splashed across newspapers, according to Syracuse.com.
“The damage inflicted upon Bernie and his family is simply immeasurable," Fine’s lawyers said. "Bernie hopes and prays that the lesson learned and remembered is that a rush to judgment has irreversible consequences.”
The story seemed to get more bizarre as time went on. Tomaselli was arrested and sentenced to three years in a Maine prison for fondling young boy at a summer camp and rumors surfaced that Fine’s wife had sex with multiple players on the basketball team. Even Boeheim was implicated in the scandal, with critics saying he should have known what was going on.
“The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money,” Boeheim said at the time.
The former ball boys, Jim Davis and Michael Lang, sued Boeheim and the University for defamation although a judge would later through the suit out of court. They were represented by Gloria Allred, who had no immediate comment Friday, according to ESPN.
Tomaselli at one point claimed Fine had been harassing him to the point that tomaselli was forced to get an order of protection. Then he said that was a lie, along with the entire story about Fine molesting him. Tomaselli then took it all back and reiterated he had been abuse by the coach.
Prosecutors did not comment Friday on whether they had any evidence in the matter or on the character of the accusers. Reporters approached Boeheim when he was walking his dog outside his Syracuse home and he only would say “No, No.”