Patrick Henningsen
November 28, 2011

Perhaps we will never know just how deep this shameful social cancer runs through America’s educational and civic institutions.

Following the incredible revelations surrounding Penn State University’s football paedophile scandal, new evidence has led to another prestigious institution as Syracuse University, located in upstate New York and home to one of the nation’s most decorated sports programs, has finally fired its assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, based on detailed allegations that he sexually molested boys over many years. His victims even included former young ball boys for the college basketball team, with abuses stretching back as far as 1984.

Local ABC affiliate WSYR Channel 9 reports:

Fine has been the subject of a sexual molestation investigation involving several law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s office, Onondaga County District Attorney’s office, Syracuse Police, and New York State Police. 

In a story ESPN aired on November 17, one alleged victim, Bobby Davis, who is now 39, told “Outside the Lines” he was abused by Fine for six years, at Fine’s home, at the university basketball facilities, and on the road. Davis was the team’s ball boy for six years beginning in 1984. 

A second alleged victim, Mike Lang, who is now 45, is Davis’ stepbrother, and was also a ball boy for several years.  Lang told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that Fine molested him starting when Lang was in the fifth or sixth grade.

A third alleged victim, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli, came forth late last week. He currently lives in Maine and claims that he was molested by Fine in 2002.

This all comes just weeks after Penn State fired its assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky over multiple charges of child sex abuse.

Shame has engulfed Penn State University after Sandusky was outed as a paedophile who groomed  all of his victims through a charity known as  called The Second Mile that, ironically, was set up to protect at-risk children. The founders and backers of this charity include such local luminaries as business magnates, university trustees, coaches and football stars.

Naturally, there is speculation as to who was involved, or had knowledge of this institutional child abuse ring. Penn State’s legendary head football coach Joe Paterno was eventually fired, along with the university’s president as a result of implications that higher-ups either were aware of the crimes but did nothing about it, choosing instead to ‘look the other way’ – or worse, were actually involved in a long-running litany of child abuse activity behind the prestigious cover of a multi-million dollar national sports program.

Scandals and corruption are nothing new to college sports in America – cash for recruits, academic eligibility fraud, laundering money through booster programs, sports agent pay-offs, steroid abuse, drug abuse, drunk driving, university cover-ups violent assaults by coaches and athletes, athletes accused of rape perpetrated against female students, and the list goes on. Anyone who has attended university with a successful college sports program will have heard of at least one of these incidents happening at some point during their four year degree. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollar that are on offer to NCAA Division One sports programs across the country, it’s not surprising if high-ranking institutional officials would opt to ‘look the other way’ or even engage in a cover-up, rather than tackle abuses which were occurring right within their midst.

Many media pundits are naturally drawing comparisons between these two recent scandals, and no doubt more questions will be asked of those involved, and more accusers will come forward as a result of the exposure of these two high-profile child abuse rings.

As it has done with Penn State, will the Orangeman’s humiliating scandal also work its way up the institution’s chain of command? Syracuse Head Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim issued his own statement regarding the school’s recent paedophile scandal, leaving those on the sideline to wonder if he too will go the way of Patterno:

“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”

Considering the closeness and constant vetting required by major college sports programs in the US, it’s doubtful that Head Coaches Joe Patterno and Jim Boeheim, who had both worked with their assistant coaches for multiple decades, would know absolutely nothing about their staff’s unhealthy over-enthusiasm for young boys. In Patterno’s case at least, the fact he was forced out of a 40 year post – a career spanning through eight US Presidents, might indicate that he was covering corruption on some level at least – otherwise he would not have bolted so quickly.

Institutional corruption involving child sexual abuse has been documented in US day care schools, elementary and high schools, and at the university level. These latest two scandals are likely to be only the tip of a much bigger iceberg.

Indeed, many Americans will look forward to more culprits of child sex abuse being exposed, shamed, tried and sentenced for their crimes – particularly those individuals who use their institutional positions of influence to gain trust, and use as cover for their horrible acts of inhumanity.


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