Discredited Syracuse accuser files lawsuit in Pa.

By JOE MANDAK

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Maine man discredited by a prosecutor has sued former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, claiming the coach molested him in a hotel room after a game in Pittsburgh in 2002.

The lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County court by Zachary Tomaselli on Thursday, one day after a prosecutor in Syracuse said he had records that could disprove the allegations. Fine’s attorneys also say travel records prove that Tomaselli is lying.

The prosecutor, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, said he believes there is evidence that Fine molested two former Syracuse ball boys in the 1980s but likely didn’t harm Tomaselli.

The five-page lawsuit briefly recounts Fine’s alleged sexual molestation of the two ball boys but provides almost no details on Tomaselli’s allegations.

The lawsuit says that Fine met Tomaselli when he was 13 and that in 2002 “Fine sexually abused Zachary, when he was 13 years old.” It also says that Tomaselli was too young to give consent and the abuse occurred in Pittsburgh, but no other details are listed.

In a statement provided to reporters before the news conference, the 23-year-old Tomaselli said he was taking action “to protect other kids from harm by Bernie Fine and powerful men like him.”

Police in Pittsburgh learned of the allegations when Tomaselli, of Lewiston, Maine, went public last month. Officers never interviewed Tomaselli, however, because they referred the allegations to the U.S. attorney’s office in Syracuse, which is investigating Fine.

Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said Tomaselli called city police after Stangrecki issued a news release Nov. 28 saying police were aware of his allegations against Fine.

On Anderson Cooper’s TV talk show on Nov. 30, Tomaselli said he had offered to take a lie detector test, has cooperated with investigators and that there is outside evidence to corroborate his story. He declined to describe the evidence.

Tomaselli’s father has said he believes his son is lying about the Pittsburgh encounter.

Tomaselli also is charged in Maine with molesting a teenage boy. He said earlier this week he expects to eventually plead guilty.

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