|Boeheim will not be successfully sued for his comments about the Bernie Fine case last fall. (Getty Images)|
Friday, a local judge killed the defamation case brought on by Bobby Davis and Mike Lang last season. The pair sued Boeheim after the SU coach was dismissive -- effectively calling the duo liars and extortionists -- of the allegations of sexual molestation pointed at former Orange assistant Bernie Fine, who was fired last fall.
Davis came forward with his claim, and Lang soon thereafter, late last November. The allegations date back to the 1980s, and under state law, Fine was protected by a statute of limitations on the alleged crimes.
Once the crimes against Fine seemed out of range for Davis and Lang, Boeheim's dismissive and public comments of doubt created an opening for the two men to keep the story in the news and align their attack against the city of Syracuse's most popular and well-known figure.
Boeheim spoke flippantly, from the heart, and it got him into some trouble. He apologized for the remarks almost two weeks after, but the damage had been done as far as Lang, Davis and their attorney was concerned.
Now? Damage undone.
The Post-Standard has more:
It should be noted, per the paper, that the judge, DeJoseph, earned his bachelor's and law degrees from Syracuse. The Lang-and-Davis camp believes there's an inherit bias to this case, of course, but barring another court taking up this case, the Bernie Fine-related pollution that hovered with Syracuse the past six months has almost entirely been cleared up, because the U.S. Attorney's Office investigation noted in the drop quote has to do with Zach Tomaselli, whose credibility evaporated long ago.
Boeheim's calling former SU ball boys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang liars who were only out for money weren't statements of fact but opinions that were protected from defamation claims, state Supreme Court Justice Brian DeJoseph said. ...
"The content, tone, and purpose of Boeheim's statements would clearly signal to the reasonable reader that what was being read in the articles published in days after the initial ESPN report were likely to be an opinion - a biased, passionate, and defensive point of view of a basketball coach - rather than objective fact," DeJoseph wrote in the 30-page decision released at 3:15 p.m. today.
The dismissal means that, unless Davis and Lang appeal, the only pending action in the case is an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Syracuse police and the Secret Service. ...
If lawyers for Davis and Lang appeal DeJoseph's ruling, it will be to a court that recently decided a slander case in favor of a defendant who labeled a man a murderer after being acquitted of homicide charges in a 2007 hunting accident in Allegany County.
If you want more details, plus reasoning from the judge in this case, peruse the official docs below.
Decision in Slander Lawsuit Against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University