First, it was prison inmate Floyd VanHooser, the alleged fourth victim. Now, it's Zach Tomaselli, who had been the third man to come forward. Tomaselli told the Daily Orange, the Syracuse student newspaper, that he had doctored emails to bolster his claim that Fine, the former Syracuse basketball assistant coach, had molested him. This is from the Daily Orange's account:
"The biggest reason is support," Tomaselli said. "I felt like there was so much stuff that people didn't know. The police were telling me that they knew my father was lying, but there's no way for me to get that out. And that's the only thing I could think of."
The emails Tomaselli admitted to altering were made to look like they had been sent from the email account of Syracuse Police Department Detective Clark Farry to Tomaselli's personal account. But before forwarding the emails, Tomaselli said he made changes and additions.
"I made a mistake," Tomaselli said. "I made up a couple of lies, and it's really biting me now."
In text messages to The Daily Orange on Friday afternoon, Tomaselli said he plans to ask Syracuse police to
end the Bernie Fine investigation.
"Im guna ask the police to end the bernie fine investigation. I'm done," he wrote in one text message.
"But he did do it. Im not lying," Tomaselli said in a second message.
That may be, but even if Tomaselli were to continue his pursuit of a criminal case, his credibility is now shot. Serious doubts about him began to surface more than a month ago, when the New York Daily News discovered travel records that contradicted part of his story, and the Onondaga County (N.Y.) District Attorney said records showed Tomaselli was in school on the day in 2002 when he alleged Fine had abused him in Pittsburgh. Now this. The stories of Fine's first two accusers, Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, were found to be "credible" by the DA, but because the statute of limitations has expired, their allegations cannot be prosecuted. Which means that, barring some actual evidence to bolster whatever's left of Tomaselli's claim, there will be no criminal case against Bernie Fine.
UPDATE (Jan. 21, 2012, 2:19 p.m. EST): Tomaselli's attorney withdrew the civil case he had filed against Fine. Federal prosecutors are still pursuing whether to bring criminal charges.