Why ESPN Sat on Explosive Syracuse Molestation Tape for Nearly 10 Years

Bernie Fine Syracuse Basketball - H 2011
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Bernie Fine Syracuse Basketball - H 2011 

The sports network possessed tape of a conversation between the wife of assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine and one of his alleged victims before broadcasting it Nov. 27.

ESPN sat on a 2002 taped conversation between Laurie Fine, the wife of recently fired Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, and Bobby Davis, the man accusing Fine of molesting him, for nearly a decade. The sports network says it did not broadcast the phone call until this Sunday because it did not have corroboration on the charges.

Syracuse fired Fine Sunday after ESPN's Outside the Lines played the tape.

University Chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a statement addressed to students, faculty and staff on Sunday: "I am writing to let you know that Bernie Fine's employment at the University has been terminated effective immediately. Frankly, the events of the past week have shaken us all. The taped phone call that ESPN revealed today was not provided to the university by Mr. Davis during the 2005 investigation by our legal counsel.

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Davis is one of three men that has said Fine molested them during his tenure as the Orangemen's coach. Davis was a ball boy for the team for six years and told ESPN that the abuse "occurred at Fine's home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four."

An excerpt of the conversation between Davis and Mrs. Fine indicated that she was aware of her husband's crimes:

Davis: "Do you think I'm the only one that he's ever done that to?"

Laurie Fine: "No ... I think there might have been others but it was geared to ... there was something about you."

As for why ESPN sat on the tape for so long, reporter Mark Schwarz said on air Sunday: "We didn't have a corroborating second alleged victim and so we kept the tape for eight years not really knowing what to do with it until the second alleged victim, Mike Lang, came forward."

Many comments on ESPN's website fault the Disney-owned channel for not doing anything about the alleged abuse earlier.

Levans4692 wrote, "Where is ESPN's culpability in this? They held onto that tape for more than six years and didn't act. Isn't this what ESPN just lynched Joe Paterno for doing? Why didn't ESPN take it a step further. They possessed an actual tape of admission of abuse and didn't act??? Where is the morality? This sickens me...hypocrites."

Pjrcol wrote, "Wait what ESPN knew someone was potentially molesting kids and sat on it!!???!!??  fuc% that espn that is bullcrap especially given the fact that you had pretty much all your analyst air their displeasure on Paterno and Penn St. when it quite clearly looks like you sat on info yourself."

Porch 33 stated, "ESPN should be held just as accountable if all this is true. Why didn't they go to the police??"

The Fine case is the second major molestation-related scandal for college sports in the past two months, following similar allegations against Penn St. assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.