Anonymous tip line set up in federal probe of Syracuse coach

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2011 11:28 AM
Anonymous tip line set up in federal probe of Syracuse coach

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors said on Thursday they have set up an anonymous tip line to bolster their investigation of child sexual abuse allegations against former Syracuse University basketball coach Bernie Fine.

Executive assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan said the toll-free telephone line, 1-855-395-1106, is aimed at gathering more information to help authorities decide whether they should build a case against Fine.

The line was established to make it easier for other alleged victims or anyone with information to come forward and reach federal authorities, he said.

"We're just trying to be as thorough as possible with the investigation," Duncan said.

"Given the nature of the allegations, and right now they're just still allegations, people might be reluctant to come forward," he said.

State and federal authorities have investigated claims by three men that Fine molested them as children.

The state prosecutor, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, said two of the men, Bobby Davis, 39, and Mike Lang, 45, have credible accusations but both state and federal statutes of limitation prevent prosecution.

The third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, 23, said he was 13 in 2002 when Fine allegedly invited him to a Syracuse away game in Pittsburgh and in their hotel room made him watch pornography and helped him masturbate.

Earlier this month, the Syracuse state prosecutor publicly disclosed some apparent holes in Tomaselli's story including no record of a bus Tomaselli claims he rode to get to the game.

Tomaselli's story triggered the federal investigation.

Fine, who has not been charged with any crime, denies the allegations. Tomaselli's father, also accused by his son of molestation, has said his son is lying.

(Reporting by Aman Ali; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)