Bobby Davis and Mike Lang—who have accused former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexually abusing them—will sue Syracuse University and head basketball coach Jim Boeheim for defamation, said their attorney Gloria Allred at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in New York City.
Both Lang and Davis went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Nov. 17, accusing Fine of molesting them during the 1980s and 90s.
Boeheim immediately responded, questioning their motives. “You don’t think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?” Boeheim said.
Boeheim came under fire for his remarks, and he later said that he “misspoke” in his defense of Fine.
“I regret any harm that I may have caused,” Boeheim said on Dec. 2.
The apology wasn’t good enough for Lang and Davis.
“Those words came too little, too late,” Allred said. “It is time to make both Coach Boeheim and Syracuse University accountable.”
Allred added that Davis and Lang would be seeking compensatory and punitive damages, although she didn’t specify a dollar amount.
Both Lang and Davis told reporters they came forward because they hope the lawsuit will empower other victims to come forward.
“I thought about other victims who might be willing to come forward,” Davis said, “but who would see or hear coach Boeheim’s comments calling me a liar, worried that they would never be willing to speak up because coach Boeheim is a person who many kids and people in this community admire.”
“Coming forward was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life,” Lang said. “I hope by doing this, I can help other victims have the courage to also come forward.”
After the allegations were made, the Onondaga County District Attorney’s investigated and found Davis and Lang to be “credible.” But the District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute since the statute of limitations had already run.
The federal authorities have since taken over the investigation.
Fine was fired by the University on Nov. 27 when a third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, came forward. The same day, ESPN released an tape of a conversation between Fine’s wife, Laurie, and Davis.