One of the men who accused former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse is now retracting his statements. Zach Tomaselli, 23, originally told investigators he was abused by Fine in a Pittsburgh hotel room back in 2002. YNN spoke with him by phone from his home in Maine. As our Katie Gibas tells us, Tomaselli say he fabricated his whole story after seeing the initial accusations against Fine on ESPN.
UNITED STATES -- Zach Tomaselli says his reason for making up his story was simple.
"This became a sick game for me. I'm very twisted, very antisocial, very sociopathic," said Tomaselli.
And his target? SU basketball.
"I've always hated Syracuse basketball because they beat my favorite basketball team, Kansas, in 2003, and as crazy as that sounds, that was definitely one of the reasons I had no problem saying anything," said Tomaselli.
Legal experts say Tomaselli's rationalization won't be enough to protect him from perjury charges if he lied in a sworn statement or to federal prosecutors. Tomaselli now also claims he was eventually contacted by initial accuser Bobby Davis and coached by Davis on how to fill holes in his story.
"Bobby calls and he says right away he knew I wasn't telling the truth and calls me out on it. And he says, 'But don't hang up. Don't hang up.' He says, 'We have an opportunity to take down a very evil man,’" said Tomaselli.
Legal analyst Paul DerOhannesian said, "That may be the most serious consequence. If Davis did in fact coach someone to lie, then that can be used against Davis. And the defense would have a good faith basis for questioning Davis about this now that they have information that that in fact occurred. I think that may be the most significant way that it could weave itself into this case."
Davis’ attorney, Gloria Allred, issued a statement that said,
“We find it unfortunate that Mr. Tomaselli has chosen to target Bobby Davis, who the Onondago [sic] District Attorney has stated is credible with respect to his report of being sexually abused by Bernie Fine. We will not dignify Mr. Tomaselli’s statements with a response.”
Based on Tomaselli's allegations, federal authorities executed search warrants at Bernie Fine's DeWitt home, his SU office and two bank safe deposit boxes.
"The fact that the search warrant may be based on false or inaccurate information doesn't necessary invalidate the warrant as long as the investigators had a good faith basis for what they did. So if they found some illegal evidence, it still may be prosecutable and usable against the defendant," said DerOhannesian. "It may affect the case if they are relying on Tomaselli for other steps or other things that they may have done. It certainly weakens the case in the sense that they don't have as many quote victims to testify."
As for Tomaselli, he says he has no regrets about the lie.
"I wish I had an emotional, heartfelt apology to give Bernie, but I don't. I have no emotions. I'm that sick of a person. I just have a lot of hate in my heart," said Tomaselli.
Only time will tell how all this will play out in the federal investigation.
The Feds are not commenting about the status of their investigation.
Fine has not been charged with any crime and his attorneys have not yet responded to our requests for comment.
Tomaselli was recently sentenced to more than three years in prison for sexually abusing a boy in Maine.
You can listen to our phone interview with Zach Tomaselli below.
Telephone interview with TomaselliListen to the interview YNN Senior Assignment Editor Josh Cradduck conducted with Bernie Fine accuser Zach Tomaselli. Note that in it, in addition to recanting his claims against Fine, Tomaselli now makes unsubstantiated allegations that he was coached by the original Fine accuser, Bobby Davis, about how to make his story more believable.
YNN CNY: Fine accuser retracts statements
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