Bernie Fine child sex abuse accusers sue Syracuse, Jim Boeheim for defamation

Former Syracuse ball boy Bobby Davis, center, addresses the media as fromer ball boy Mike Lang, right, and attorney Gloria Allred, look on during a news conference, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, in New York.
AP Photo/Richard Drew
Bobby Davis, center, Mike Lang, right, and attorney Gloria Allred
AP Photo/Richard Drew

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Two men who accused former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of molesting them sued the school and men's head basketball coach Jim Boeheim for defamation Tuesday, saying they were vilified as liars out for money.

Bobby Davis and his step-brother Michael Lane say Fine sexually abused them for years, beginning in the 1980s. Fine, who has since been fired, has denied the allegations. Meanwhile, a third man Zach Tomaselli, has also accused the 65-year-old Fine, who had been Boeheim's top assistant since 1976.

"It really hurt me to learn coach Boeheim had accused me of lying," Davis said, reading from a statement at a news conference after the lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court.

When the allegations surfaced Nov. 17, Boeheim staunchly supported Fine, saying the accusations were lies to capitalize on the Penn State child sex abuse case.

"The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money," Boeheim told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "If he gets this, he's going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I'd say about $50 million. That's what this is about. Money."

Also in an interview with ESPN, which broke the story, Boeheim said: "It is a bunch of a thousand lies that (Davis) has told. You don't think it is a little funny that his cousin is coming forward?"

Lang said that when Boeheim suggested "my little brother and I were lying," he "felt sick to my stomach."

University spokesman Kevin Quinn declined comment. The U.S. attorney's office is also investigating.

Victim advocates reacted angrily to Boeheim's initial comments and called for him to resign or be fired. He later said he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers.

That's not enough, said attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the stepbrothers. Her recent clients include a woman who accused presidential candidate Herman Cain of making unwelcome sexual advances.

"Boeheim's statements impugning the veracity and motivations of Mr. Davis and Mr. Lang were particularly disturbing given his 35 years of opportunity to observe Fine at close quarters, and at least seven years of opportunity to see Fine with Bobby Davis on trips, at practices, in Manley Field House and at games," Allred said.

Complete coverage of Bernie Fine on Crimesider