GENEVA, N.Y.—At 11 a.m. today, Laurie Fine stood outside of a castle about an hour west of the Syracuse University apartments in which, according to a former ball boy's testimony, she had sex with Syracuse men's basketball players. Here, flanked by the sun, the tweeting birds, and the rippling waters of Lake Seneca, Fine announced that she did no such thing, nor did she see and then keep quiet about her husband Bernie Fine molesting children, nor did she have sex with the ball boy, Bobby Davis, when he was in high school, among other things she did not do.
She really wants everyone to know she did not do these things. That's why she booked the castle by the lake.
Well, actually, she could have picked any venue. But according to her attorney, Lawrence Fisher, Fine chose Belhurst Castle for the sake of symbolism. She wanted to show that she did not feel comfortable in her hometown anymore. And she liked the story of its construction: In 1885 a woman named Carrie Harron came to Geneva and, Fisher said, "built this castle." In that tradition, he continued, "another strong New York woman, Laurie Fine, comes here and begins rebuilding her life." (Legend has it that the castle hosts the ghost of an Italian opera singer who fled from Spain with her lover.)
Fine was here, nominally, to discuss her plan to file a federal libel suit against ESPN, reporter Mark Schwarz, and producer Arthur Berko, as soon as ESPN says it won't settle. If the suit does go to court, witnesses will be subpoenaed to discuss the alleged years-long Syracuse basketball orgy. She spoke briefly about how ESPN "maliciously attacked" her by falsely reporting Bobby Davis's "treacherous lies" to boost ratings and attack Bernie. (For what it's worth, Fisher says Fine has no interest in suing Davis: "We don't wish him any ill will. As always, I think Laurie wishes he would make something out of his life other than this scandal.")
But we were really here, inside this living watercolor painting, to talk about blowjobs, weren't we? WSYR reporter Carrie Lazarus did the best job of it. She asked Fine and her attorney about the phone call with Davis in 2003, the one Davis surreptitiously recorded and gave to the press.
Lazarus: "You talk about in the complaint that the Fines wanted to help Davis and realizing this was futile, that he was not able to be helped. Why, then, would Laurie Fine talk about specific sex acts in a conversation with Bobby Davis? And why should she say, 'I knew what was going on, when he went down to the basement and told me to check on sons,' why did the phone call turn to that, if it was really about trying to help Bobby?"
Fisher: "I don't know that the premise of your question is correct. I don't know that anyone has spoken about specific sex acts whatsoever and in fact I think to the contrary the complaint would refute the premise to your question."
Lazarus: "Are you saying that when Laurie says something about 'grabbing you,' or 'blowing you' that it was not about sex?"
Fisher: "I beg your pardon?"
Lazarus: "There was a quote in the transcript that has Laurie talking about 'grabbing you,' or ‘blowing you.' Be honest with me."
Fisher: "You are now engaging in the same out-of-context undertaking as ESPN has, and I would caution you against that."
Fine's quote, the one to which Lazarus referred, is right there in the transcript provided on the Post-Standard's website: "He wants you to grab him? Or blow him?" The conversation then continued with Davis saying, "He tried to make me grab him. But first he'd try to grab me and start touching me. ..." And Laurie Fine replied: "Right. But when he gave you the money, what did he want for that? He wanted you to grab him or he wanted to do you?"
If the case goes to trial, Fisher said they will have an expert testify that ESPN doctored the tape down from 48 minutes. He did not deny that it was Laurie's voice on the tape.
The press conference was over in 20 minutes, and we all cleared out of Belhurst Castle. There's a little more to the Harron story, though, than the version Fisher gave. According to the luxurious resort/winery/spa's website, Harron, a woman of "means," actually hired 50 men to build the castle. She then moved to the place with her manager, Capt. Louis Collins, while her husband stayed in New York City. Shortly after, she divorced her husband and married Capt. Collins. There's your Belhurst: ghosts and old legends and illicit love. Some symbolism.
Nate Hopper's writing has appeared in The Awl and Jerk magazine. He tweets @NDHopper.