Victims' Advocate Says Fourth Victim May Emerge in Syracuse Sex Abuse Case 

By Michael O'Keeffe, Teri Thompson & Christian Red (NY Daily News)
November 29, 2011

A fourth victim in the Bernie Fine-Syracuse University sex abuse scandal may soon emerge according to Robert Hoatson, the president and founder of Road to Recovery, a non-profit organization that supports victims of abuse.

Hoatson told the Daily News Tuesday that he has spoken with a female family member of an alleged victim of Fine's, and that the woman has gone to Syracuse Police and the Onondaga County District Attorney's office with the claims.

Hoatson said Syracuse police contacted him about the alleged victim. He traveled to Syracuse on Tuesday afternoon to meet the family but had not connected with them as of late Tuesday.

Hoatson added that the alleged victim was in his early teens when the alleged abuse took place.

"I got a call from this person's family," Hoatson said. "They said something happened to someone in their family. She said she's gone to law enforcement."

"When (the information) comes to light, he added, "it will be very powerful."

Three people have come forward with claims that Fine — the former Syracuse men's basketball assistant coach who was fired on Sunday — molested them. Two of the men, Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Mike Lang, say the abuse took place more than two decades ago. The third victim, Zach Tomaselli, claims Fine sexually abused him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.

Although Pittsburgh police were initially looking into opening an investigation of Fine, a police spokeswoman told The News Tuesday that the department is "in a holding pattern" since federal authorities — including the U.S. Secret Service — are handling the case. The spokeswoman added that it's possible the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, David J. Hickton, may get involved with the case. The spokeswoman said the department was still waiting to hear back from Hickton's office Tuesday afternoon.

The allegations against Fine stretch back to 2002 when Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy, first told Syracuse police that he had been abused by Fine in the 1980s. Police told Davis then that the statute of limitations had run out on the claims and no investigation was launched.

Davis then recorded a phone call with Fine's wife, Laurie, in which she appears to confirm Davis' claims of abuse by her husband. Davis turned that tape over to the Syracuse Post-Standard and ESPN in 2003 but neither news organization reported the contents of the tape until this week. Davis again reported his abuse claims to Syracuse police on Nov. 17, and an investigation, now being overseen by federal authorities, has been launched.

Hoatson said he expects to meet with the media after he talks with the alleged victim's family.

Hoatson has been a vocal critic of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who criticized Davis when the story first broke and then said in a statement Sunday that he regretted making any remarks that might keep abuse victims from coming forward.

"I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well," Hoatson said Monday. "These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim's responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch."