A prison inmate has came forward as the fourth alleged victim of Bernie Fine, the former Syracuse basketball assistant who was fired amid sexual abuse charges on Nov. 27.
Floyd VanHooser, 56, currently serving 16 years to life at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., for a string of burglaries, says that he lived with the Fines on and off for more than 40 years, beginning when he was orphaned at age 13. He says that Fine began sexually abusing him in 1969, when he was just 14 years old, and was pressuring him into giving blowjobs for money as recently as last summer.
VanHooser, who was described in a 2002 court appearance as a "die-hard drug addict," did not come forward to police with his allegations; they sought him out independently last month after his former case worker reached out and suggested that they ask him about his relationship with Fine. VanHooser told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he has limited access to television and publications at prison and "didn't know any details about the Fine scandal until the last day or two."
More so than Zach Tomaselli's bizarre tale, VanHooser's connection to the Fine family holds up. Cindy Clarke, VanHooser's former girlfriend and mother to one of his children, told police that she'd learned of the alleged abuse as early as 2001 or 2002. She says VanHooser told her that Fine "had been making him touch his penis since he was 15 years old."
VanHooser's name was also brought to the Post-Standard's attention back in 2002, when former Syracuse ball boy Bobby Davis gave the paper the names of "more than a dozen males whom he believed had spent a lot of time at Fine's house as children." The list included VanHooser. Furthermore, in looking through newspaper archives, the paper found that in a 1975 story on a drug case, VanHooser's address matched that of Fine's home at the time. The connection continued:
When the state filed a judgment against VanHooser in 1999 for unpaid taxes, it listed his address as 201 Wilson St., Fine's home. In a pre-sentence report in 2003 in one of VanHooser's many criminal cases, VanHooser listed Fine and SU coach Jim Boeheim as his "source of support" because he'd done work for them.
In a 2002 letter to prosecutors before sentencing, a social worker handling VanHooser's case said VanHooser had felt obligated to do work at Fine's home as a way to repay money Fine had loaned him.
The Post-Standard did not say if it attempted to track down to VanHooser after Davis gave the paper his name in 2002.
The 56-year-old told police that he also had a sexual relationship with Fine as an adult. VanHooser says that Fine "pressured him to perform oral sex and later gave VanHooser money" on three separation occasions—in 1998, 2001, and 2011. This past summer, VanHooser alleges, Fine pressured him into giving him a blowjob at his campus office and then paid him $300.
A few months later, VanHooser was sentenced to prison.