Almost a year ago, when Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine was accused of molesting as many as three boys as recently as 2002, many people raised an eyebrow and whispered ‘witch-hunt’. Accusations against Fine came on the heels of the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky scandal and it seemed a little fishy. Turns out it was fishy as the federal investigation looking into FIne found nothing incriminating about his actions over the last 40 years.
All charges of sexual abuse against Fine have officially been dropped.
The case was fired up when, in the middle of the world being caught up in the Penn State scandal, two former Syracuse ball boys came forward claiming they’d both been molested by Fine when they were younger. A third man later stepped forward and said that in 2002, Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room. While investigators ruled the first two incidents had taken place too long ago, the 2002 allegation was enough to launch a formal investigation.
While nothing came of the investigation in terms of evidence against Fine, the coach ended up being fired not long into the scandal, something U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian suggests was merely collateral damage from the government doing it’s job to protect against child molesters.
“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 whole case was fishy from the start, as the first two boys (now men) came forward days after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and there was speculation that all the two wanted was money and TV time. If you remember, this was angrily accused by Orange head coach Jim Boeheim the two of during a postgame press conference. The two accusers unsuccessfully tried to sue Boeheim and the university for defamation, a suit a judge quickly threw out.
A fourth accuser stepped forward much later into the case but admitted he was lying about his allegations to get money and TV time — noticing a trend?
To top it all off, the third accuser, the one who’s allegation was making the case a federal one, was accused himself of molesting a boy at a camp in 2010. It was only because he was going behind bars that he created a slew of sordid stories about Fine and being molested and harassed by him nearly a decade earlier.
Fast forward a year and the three (well, technically four) accusers are old news, one of them is justly behind bars for being the monster he accused Fine of being, and the charges against the ex-coach have been dropped. The Bernie Fine case was an example to the world of how greedy, seedy and low people can be when it comes to taking advantage of a situation. Perhaps FIne did abuse the first two boys, but there’s no evidence other than word of mouth to suggest he did.
Meanwhile, Fine is out of a job, his name is forever attached to that of a child molestation case, despite his innocence and he has taught the world a valuable lesson in how helpless even a powerful man can be when faced with baseless accusations that can cripple a career and ruin a life.