Restraining order issued against ex-Syracuse coach

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 07, 2012 4:43 PM
Restraining order issued against ex-Syracuse coach

By Aman Ali

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man who accused Bernie Fine of molesting him as a teen got a temporary order of protection against him, saying the former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach threatened him in recent weeks.

A Superior Court judge issued temporary restraining order against Fine on Monday in Lewiston, Maine. A judge was due to decide March 6 whether to make the order permanent.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Maine, became the third man to accuse Fine of molesting him as a juvenile, adding to a scandal that had already engulfed the highly successful Syracuse basketball program in much the same way a similar affair rocked Penn State football.

Tomaselli said in court papers Fine has repeatedly called his home and cell phone with threatening messages since he made his accusation public in November 2011.

Fine's attorneys could not be reached for comment about the restraining order.

Fine has denied the sexual abuse accusations and no charges have been filed against him. Prosecutors closed the case of two other former ballboys who as adults accused Fine of abuse, saying the statute of limitations had expired.

"He told me he is going to put me in a federal prison for 'lying' and said that I would be abused even worse in federal prison," Tomaselli wrote in the application for the order. "He told me he is 'coming to get' me and that he will show me what real sex abuse is."

Tomaselli also wrote in the application that Fine told "me certain things about my body and what I was wearing that night" in 2002. That is when Tomaselli says Fine sexually abused him at the age of 13 in a Pittsburgh motel room during a Syracuse road trip.

Fine was also the target of a lawsuit filed in December by Tomaselli, who withdrew the lawsuit about a month later.

After Tomaselli in November became the third accuser, Fine was fired as assistant to Hall of Fame head coach Jim Boeheim.

Questions have surfaced about Tomaselli, who recently pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy in Maine. He was expected to be sentenced this month, his attorney Justin Leary said.

Federal authorities are investigating Tomaselli's allegations about Fine after a state prosecutor was publicly skeptical about several aspects of his story.

Tomaselli has also accused his father of sexual abuse, and his father said in December his son was lying.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Daniel Trotta)