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Syracuse police chief: Accusations against Bernie Fine still 'highly credible'

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Bobby Davis, left, and Mike Lang, right, stand with attorney Gloria Allred at a news conference last December. (Getty Images)

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said he finds three sexual-molestation accusers against former Syracuse assistant men's basketball coach Bernie Fine "highly credible." The statement comes after a yearlong investigation by the Syracuse Police Department into the mucky case that hijacked college basketball for much of last November and December.

Fine was fired on Nov. 27, 2011, because of the allegations. To this day, he has yet to comment publicly about the case.

The Post-Standard of Syracuse has a story up on Fowler and his department's findings/beliefs over the hazy and often contradictory saga in Syracuse, one that officially wrapped up two weeks ago, when Fine could not be charged by federal prosecutors.

Fowler and a deputy chief said this week that, based on their detectives' work, they believed the accusations that Bobby Davis, Mike Lang and Floyd VanHooser made last year against Fine. That assessment is one that federal prosecutors wouldn't make two weeks ago when they closed the investigation without charging Fine.

Fine's lawyers pointed to that announcement as vindication. But a lawyer for two of the accusers, along with victims' advocates, said it only meant that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. Fowler's finding could add to that debate.

The statement from the head of Syracuse Police is an interesting turn, considering the department once had a police chief/former SU player who was tipped to the Fine and Davis case 10 years ago yet put no formal reports together on the possible crimes at play. With a decade passing between, the statute of limitations had long since expired on all alleged victims' claims, dating back to the 1980s, so Fine could not be charged by state prosecutors.

Davis and Lang have maintained their accusations against Fine since going public last November. In May, a judge turned down a slander lawsuit on those two's behalf against Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who initially and publicly dismissed the allegations.

VanHooser recanted on his accusations in early 2012, but the Post-Standard's story cites investigators finding more evidence to support his claims, including in police reports. In April, Zach Tomaselli, a fourth accuser, admitted to making up most of his story and molestation accusations.

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