2003: Laurie Fine Verified Same Tape ESPN Buried

In 2003 ESPN received an audio tape from Bobby Davis, who alleged that it included the recorded voice of Bernie Fine’s wife.

ESPN buried tape that Laurie Fine confirmed in 2003 had her voice on it

(Laurie Fine verified voice on tape in’03. Where was World Wide Leader?)

In the tape, Laurie Fine acknowledged her husband’s sexual abuse of a child - Davis himself - on multiple occasions while also confirming that she thought there were more molestation victims who had been targeted by Bernie Fine.

On Nov. 17, 2011, ESPN first broke the news of the allegations against Fine by Davis and his stepbrother Mike Lang, though ESPN did not acknowledge the existence of the audio tape until last Sunday. ESPN’s acknowledgement of the tape - and its contents - quickly led to Bernie Fine’s firing by Syracuse University. The revelations of the tape also produced a backtracking statement from Jim Boeheim, who had earlier cited his 48-year friendship with Fine in calling Davis and Lang “liars” who were “trying to get money.”

As part of a Q & A done with ESPN VP of Public Relations Josh Krulewitz about the network’s coverage of the story, ESPN Senior Vice President & Director of News Vince Doria justified not reporting the allegations made against Bernie Fine in 2003 - which included the audio tape in which Laurie Fine acknowledged her husband’s sexual abuse of a child - thusly:

“based on that tape which we had not generated; which we had no real knowledge of how it was made and Bobby Davis’s story – which was one person with no corroboration – we felt in 2003 that the material we had did not meet the standards for reporting the story.”

But Laurie did, in fact, “corroborate” the allegations made by Davis at that time - to the SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD: in 2003 confirm that it was indeed her voice on the tape to the SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD:

After we heard the tape, we approached Laurie Fine. She admitted to phone conversations with Davis.

The bedrock defense from ESPN’s Doria in not reporting the existence of the tape when ESPN broke the story on Nov. 17, 2011, was that he and his colleagues had previously been unable to confirm Laurie Fine’s voice on the tape.

When we had the audio in the past we had never been able to confirm that it was Laurie Fine. Part of it was we had no independent video of her and her voice – something we could look at and say, “Yes, that’s her and yes, that appears to be her voice.”

So why did it take eight years for ESPN to do what a local Syracuse outlet did immediately after receiving the tape?

Because ESPN never contacted Laurie Fine directly. Not in eight years. Not even after it finally broke the story two weeks ago!

The only attempt Doria reported this week that ESPN ever made to contact any member of the Fine family came after it broke the story in 2011 - and even then ESPN didn’t reach out to the Fines directly.

Doria:

At the same time we felt we really wanted to go to the Fines [in 2011 after ESPN broke the story]and present this evidence to them and give them the opportunity to respond in order to be as fair as possible. We tried on several occasions to contact Fine’s lawyer and the communications representative for the law firm got back to us and listened to our request where we told him we had some new information that we wanted to present to the Fines to get their side of the story and he promised to get back to us but never did.

If Vince Doria’s newsgathering organization did, at the very least, attempt to contact Laurie Fine or her husband directly it would now most certainly report that fact. It - and Doria - hasn’t.

While the Post-Standard also errored by not reporting the story in 2003 - or providing the tape to police at the time - at the very least it reached out to Laurie Fine directly who, “ … admitted to phone conversations with Davis, confirmed portions of the recording were accurate, suggested the tape had been doctored ...”

Not only did ESPN place children in peril after it did not report an audio tape of Laurie Fine acknowledging her husband’s molestation of a child - and more victims - to the police in 2003, ESPN showed gross journalistic negiligence by not trying to directly contact the Fines before deciding to bury the story at that time.


Add in ESPN’s wildly disingenuous “lack of corroboration” and “voice verification” defense for not publishing the story in 2003, and leaving out the tapes from its initial story 2011, and we are surely witnessing the darkest moment in sports journalism history.

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Audio: Boeheim’s Comments On Syracuse Radio

Tuesday afternoon Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim appeared on his weekly radio show in Syracuse on ESPN 97.7 FM with co-hosts Steve Infanti and Chris McManus.


During the five minute interview, Boeheim was not specifically asked about the situation involving former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who is currently under investigation by Syracuse and Federal authorities following accusations that he molested multiple boys.

When asked during the show about preparation for Syracuse’s game tonight against Eastern Michigan amidst “distractions“, Boeheim said, “It’s the same as it is every week. The players have no distractions. They aren’t a part of anything. It’s stuff that happened a long time ago.

Boeheim was also not questioned today about the apologetic statement he released Sunday night through the school after previously calling Fine’s initial accusers liars” who were “trying to get money.”

When asked during his radio appearance today about the “emotions he was feeling“Boeheim said, “[the players] expect the coaches to be focused when they come to practice.”

Boeheim, who backtracked off his own initial accusations of Bobby Davis and Mike Lang after Fine was fired on Sunday, received a statement of support today from Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

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ESPN: Worldwide Leader in Endangering Children

Strong statement?


Watch.

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Why Didn’t ESPN Give Fine Tape To Authorities?

Today ESPN released excerpts of a tape-recorded phone conversation between the wife of Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine and a man who claims Fine repeatedly sexually molested him beginning when he was in the seventh grade.

Despite wife of Bernie Fine acknowledging abuse and saying there could be other victims, ESPN didnt turn taped phone call evidence over to authorities in 2003

(Fine acknowledgement of abuse not enough for ESPN to give tape to cops?)

The audio, recorded on Oct. 8, 2002, includes Fine accuser Bobby Davis, now 39, discussing his alleged molestation with Laurie Fine.

Throughout the call, Laurie Fine acknowledged the abuse - and her husband’s unwillingness to own up to what amounted to serious, criminal behavior.

Laurie Fine to Davis:

“I know everything that went on, you know. I know everything that went on with him … And you trusted somebody you shouldn’t have trusted …

“Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he’s somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind.”

When talking about Bernie Fine’s unwillingness to give Davis $5,000 to help him pay off student loans, Bernie Fine’s accuser said to the wife of the Syracuse basketball coach during their 2002 phone call, “It’s not about the money.”

Laurie Fine then replied, “It’s about the d—. I know that. I’m just telling you for your own good, you’re better off just staying away from him.

Fine’s wife later said during the taped call that her husband wasn’t worried about the legal repercussions of his alleged sexual abuse of children because, “he thinks he’s above the law.

Also during the call, Davis asked Fine’s wife: “Do you think I’m the only one that he’s ever done that to?

Laurie Fine’s response to Davis: “No … I think there might have been others …

Today the Syracuse Post-Standard may have confirmed Laurie Fine’s suspicions about her husband’s further sexual abuse of children with a new report of a 23-year-old man now accusing Fine, on the record, of molesting him in a hotel room in 2002 during a Syracuse University basketball team road trip.

In its report today, ESPN justified not going public with the Davis allegations in 2003 - which include the taped phone call of Laurie Fine - thusly:

Davis first gave the tape to ESPN in 2003. At the time, ESPN did not report Davis’ accusations, or report the contents of the tape, because no one else would corroborate his story. After a second man said this month that he was also molested by Fine (that man is Mike Lang, Davis’ step brother), ESPN hired a voice-recognition expert who said the voice on the tape matches the voice of Laurie Fine.

ESPN also reported that after it broke its initial story of the accusations against Bernie Fine on Nov. 17, 2011, “Davis shared the tape with Syracuse police, one of several law-enforcement agencies who have opened an investigation into the case.

After the ESPN report today the SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, which previously reported that it was first contacted by Davis in 2003 about alleged Fine abuse, indicated that it was provided the tape as well:

Bobby Davis taped the 47-minute phone call with Laurie Fine, the coach’s wife for 26 years, on Oct. 8, 2002 and provided the tape to The Post-Standard shortly after. … After a six-month investigation, The Post-Standard did not publish a story about Davis’ allegations or the tape in 2002 because the newspaper could find no witnesses, enough corroborating evidence or a second accuser.

The Post-Standard, like ESPN, did not report today why it did not turn the tape over to authorities.

Pete Thamel of the NEW YORK TIMES reports Syracuse University indicated today that it was never made aware of the tape. The school recently reported it investigated the claims made by Davis in 2005.

While ESPN and the Post-Standard both have indicated why it did not publish the allegations made by Davis against Fine in 2003, it has not yet commented on why it did not turn over the audio tape to Syracuse law enforcement in 2003.

Considering it had possession of hard evidence of the wife of Bernie Fine acknowledging that he may have committed sexual abuse against children - and that authorities were unaware of Fine’s possible continuing criminal activity - ESPN and the Post-Standard not providing such evidence to law enforcement at the time is, at best, morally reprehensible.

At worst? Culpable.

Time will tell.

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