Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine has been accused of sexually abusing young boys. The allegations are shocking.We know the regular readers of this site don't come here for "hard news." That's not what we do. However, the issue is too big to ignore.
Sexual abuse is a vile, despicable, repugnant act. For far too long monsters have preyed on young victims who are too scared and ashamed to speak out. People in a position of power abuse those below them and that, combined with the shame associated with being abused, makes speaking out that much harder. Everyone in our society has a responsibility to do whatever is possible to help those who have been hurt and work to stop future crimes. So, to belittle the claims of the accuser in this case is akin to to belittling victims of sexual abuse everywhere. We will not do that.
However, the accusations are just that -- accusations. Right now three people know what happened in this case - Bernie Fine and his two accusers. A mere four hours after the story broke we know Syracuse has taken decisive action to address the matter. The statement from the University is thorough and lays out the facts clearly. The statement from Kevin Quinn (who I can tell you from personal experience is as fair and honorable a person as you'll ever meet) reads:
“In 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men’s basketball coach. The alleged activity took place in the 1980’s and 1990’s. We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
“On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations.
“Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associate coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community.”
So we don't know what went on - but we do know that the University has been proactive in its response. Bernie Fine has been placed on administrative leave. While you are innocent until proven guilty in this country, it was the right move to make. As fans of the University, the program, Jim Boeheim and all he stands for, we can only hope there is no cover-up and the University has done the right thing throughout. So far it appears that this is the case, but it's too soon to know for sure. We do know Jim Boeheim is standing 100 percent behind Fine and we also know a former ballboy calls these claims absolutely false.
Another investigation is underway and the truth will come out. All claims of sexual abuse deserve a thorough examination and it appears that this case will get one. That's the right thing to do. When we know what happened there will only be two outcomes -- we will find out that the lives of young boys have been severely and irrevocably harmed - or we will find out that Bernie Fine's reputation has been savagely destroyed.
Either way there will be no winners. It is a sad day for everyone.