By Douglass Dowty (The Post-Standard)
November 28, 2011
Syracuse, NY -- The U.S. Attorney -- not the county district attorney -- has taken the lead in the child sex abuse probe of former Syracuse University associate men's basketball coach Bernie Fine.
Fine, 65, was fired Sunday night by the university amid allegations he sexually abused several boys.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said this morning that the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of the U.S. Attorney's Office, is leading the investigation.
"I've been in close contact with the U.S. Attorney," Fitzpatrick said. "All of last week, we discussed the case. The lead agency in investigating is the Secret Service under the direction of the U.S. Attorney's Office, assisted by the Syracuse Police Department."
When asked if his office was still investigating, Fitzpatrick said, "Oh yes, absolutely. We're acting in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office. I'm not doing anything without checking with them."
Fitzpatrick said the investigation is focusing on finding out if Fine can be prosecuted. The allegations made by former SU ball boy Bobby Davis happened too long ago to be prosecuted under state law.
"The U.S. Attorney is, as I am, interested in finding out if there are any prosecutable victims," Fitzpatrick said.
The Secret Service, Syracuse Police and New York State Police searched Fine's DeWitt home Friday for hours. They took pictures, looked through trash and removed three filing cabinets.
Separately, Fitzpatrick said he continues to investigate what Syracuse police and others knew about the allegations in 2002.
"My office is separately investigating what happened back in 2002, which does not concern the United States Attorney's Office," the district attorney said. "We're in court (Tuesday) on that, to determine whether or not the records will be disclosed. And that will obviously have a large impact into the status of the inquiry."
Lawyers from the DA's office and the city are due in Supreme Court Justice James Murphy's court at 2 p.m. Tuesday to determine whether the city will be ordered to hand over its records from 2002 to the DA's office.
Fitzpatrick denied that his office knew anything of the allegations in 2002. "Nobody ever informed this office that there were sexual abuse allegations against Bernie Fine in 2002,"
he said. He said wants to know how Syracuse Police, The Post-Standard, ESPN and Syracuse University all gave Davis a hearing, but did not contact his office.
A sworn statement from Davis's former girlfriend, Danielle Roach, said that Roach called Fitzpatrick's office multiple times on behalf of Davis and left messages that a basketball coach at SU had sexually abused a friend of hers. Roach said she wasn't sure if she left Fine's name or not. She said the calls were not returned.
Fitzpatrick said he talked to someone close to Roach, who asked her about the phone calls in 2002. Roach told that person that she had made two calls, the DA has said.
The first time, Roach didn't leave her name or phone number or say why she was calling, Fitzpatrick said. The second message she left did not include Fine's name or anything about sexual abuse, Fitzpatrick said.