Yesterday Laurie Fine went to a castle to announce that her husband, Bernie, the former Syracuse basketball assistant, hadn't molested anybody, and that she would be suing ESPN for libel for repeating that charge, among others. Today, ESPN and one of Fine's accusers returned her lakeside volley.
Fine's suit argues that ESPN's story had no reason to rely on Mike Lang, the stepbrother of Fine's chief accuser, Bobby Davis. The lawsuit discusses Lang's "blatant non-credibility" and says Davis coached him to claim that he was molested. After all, Fine and her attorneys argue, why would Lang have tried to get his son a gig as a Syracuse ballboy if he knew Fine to be a molester?
In an interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard, Lang today defended himself:
Lang said the coach owed him, after the long-ago abuse. That desire to get back at Fine, Lang said, is why he made the request in 2009 or 2010 for his son to work as a ball boy for Fine.
"I tried to use Bernie for whatever I could," Lang said. "I know he used me. I figured he owed me a little bit of something." Fine denied the request, saying the rules had changed for choosing ball boys, Lang said.
Lang said he previously denied that Fine abused him because he didn't want to drag his father into a mess. Once his father died in 2010, Lang told the Post-Standard, he felt freer to admit what had happened to him:
"Nothing really happened to me," Lang said. "That's what the big thing is, or I would've never brought my little brother on. (Fine) grabbed me, it was nonchalant. I always felt a little weird. He tried to touch me in my penis on the outside of my shorts or whatever and I pushed his hand away. But nothing happened to me like it did to Bobby."
Lang and Davis had sued Jim Boeheim for slander after he called them liars, but the suit was dismissed last week. Lang says he didn't mind losing the suit—he likes Boeheim and didn't want him to get fired. Really.
As for ESPN, they released the full 2002 call between Fine and Davis today on YouTube. Fine's attorney said yesterday that an expert could testify that the tape was doctored. If any audiophiles have 45 minutes, the tape's below:
Mike Lang speaks: Glad he lost slander suit vs. Boeheim, details favors he sought from Bernie Fine [Syracuse Post-Standard]