Syracuse Criticized for Its Handling of Sexual Abuse Case

When Bobby Davis sent an anonymous e-mail to Syracuse University in 2005, saying that the associate men’s basketball coach Bernie Fine had molested him, the university asked its legal counsel to start an investigation.

The subsequent decision by the university and its counsel — Bond, Schoeneck & King — not to contact the Onondaga County district attorney’s office and the Syracuse police department during its four-month investigation has drawn criticism from experts who handle sexual abuse cases. Jeffrey J. Mueller of the risk consultancy firm Granite Intelligence, who is a former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, said it was “beyond egregious” that the university and the law firm did not consult with law enforcement.

“It’s a shock to the conscience,” Mueller said. “It begs the question, Why? What interests were served by not going to police or law enforcement. I can’t think of any. Why would they not?”

The university and Bond, Schoeneck & King declined to comment on the situation, including questions on whether investigators who specialized in sexual abuse cases were used in the investigation. 

Syracuse has now given the findings of the 2005 investigation to the district attorney’s office, and the university’s board of trustees has retained an “independent” law firm to look into its initial handling of the case. Federal law enforcement is also involved. William Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney, said nothing in the report indicated that any of the lawyers involved in the inquiry had “an expertise in investigating sexual abuse.”

(To read full article, visit this New York Times link)

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