Comparing Nittany Lions to Oranges

Before I get started, I feel compelled to share a personal experience, so people know exactly where I'm coming from.

When I was 10 years old, my parents sent me to an overnight summer camp. My first week there a counselor came to our cabin almost every night; he would lay in various campers' beds with the lights off and tell our bunk ghost stories. One of those nights he laid down in my bed. I thought nothing of it, until he slid his body up against mine. I didn't quite know what was going on, but I knew this was weird, really weird, so I immediately got up and went to the bathroom and when I came back to the cabin (several minutes later), he was in someone else's bed. The next morning a few of my bunkmates confided in me that the counselor had touched them while he was telling us the ghost stories. They were afraid to tell anyone because they didn't think anyone would believe them and because they thought he was such a nice guy. We discussed things and ultimately decided to tell our counselors. They told the camp director, who reported it to the police, who launched an investigation and ultimately arrested the man. I remember seeing the police escort him away from the camp and some of my bunkmates, the kids who he molested, felt guilty about getting him in trouble. Ultimately, it turned that they weren't his only victims—he not only touched them, but had raped other children. I, along with several other young boys, testified at his trial, and he was convicted on something like 19 different charges. 

So when someone comes forward with an allegation of sexual abuse, I take it very very seriously. When the Penn State scandal broke, I thought the only possible good that might come from it would be that it might compel other victims of abuse to have the courage to come forward, and maybe just maybe prevent other children from being victimized.

With that being said, let's talk about what is going on at Syracuse and its inevitable comparisons to what happened at Penn State. 

First and foremost, and if you take nothing else away from this post I hope you remember this point, very little is known at this point. DON'T RUSH TO CONCLUSIONS, EITHER WAY. Until we know more facts, we shouldn't assume the accuser is a liar, nor should we condemn Bernie Fine. We simply don't know enough to rush to judgment, either way. LET THIS PLAY OUT FIRST.

They are just now reopening the investigation here. At PSU, there was a Grand Jury indictment with 8 victims having come forward and various other eye witnesses corroborating their accounts. Since then, something like a dozen more victims have come forward. Now I believe in the principles of our legal system, innocent until proven guilty, and I think Sandusky deserves his day in court, but given the overwhelming amount of damning testimony against Sandusky as well as the admission from Paterno, Curley, and others that they were aware of McQueary's 3rd party eye-witness testimony, I felt more than comfortable demanding that everyone at PSU who knew about the actions of Sandusky and either did nothing or helped cover those actions up had to go. I stand by that. Right now, all we know is that one person two family members have come forward, the second only now, and not in 2003 when the first reported molestation allegations to the Syracuse police. The University did a four month investigation in 2005 and couldn't find any corroborating evidence. Neither could the Syracuse Police. Or ESPN. Or the Post-Standard. So while PSU seems to be a case of an institutional cover-up, so far this seems like Syracuse took the accusations seriously, investigated them, and like everyone else, thought that it was one person's word against another's, not enough to go on. So as far as we know, even if these accusations against Fine turn out to be true, this feels like an entirely different set of circumstances than the PSU situation. A single claim, investigated, with no corroboration vs. several claims, an eye-witness to a rape in the shower, and what appears to be an institutional cover-up.

Now we can, and some have chosen to speculate about why Davis (Fine's accuser) came forward again: what he might have to gain, what his relationship with Fine might've been, what his mental state is currently, and why his step-brother is just now coming forward with his claims. I'm not going to do that. WE SIMPLY DON'T KNOW ENOUGH. And speculating at this point is like shooting free throws with a blindfold - you can do it, but you're probably going to be even worse at it than SU basketball has historically been. Reports that Davis shared a hotel room with Fine and that Boeheim saw this and didn't act are a non-starter for me. Davis described Fine as a surrogate father, so Fine taking his surrogate son to games and sharing a room with him as opposed to having him room with college athletes who are doing who knows what on the road, doesn't seem strange to me. And when you stay in hotel rooms, you lie on the bed and watch TV. I don't think you can compare Davis' claim that Boeheim saw him lying on Fine's bed to Paterno hearing McQueary say Sandusky was having intercourse with a boy who looked to be 10 or 11 in the shower. One is a black and white situation, the other is slight shades of grey at worst.

While I refuse to speculate on the accusers, I feel it's important to point out that  this investigation was REOPENED because ESPN REBROKE this story 8 years after deciding they didn't have enough to originally report it. In the wake of the PSU scandal and the round the clock attention people paid to ESPN, the timing of this is clearly not coincidental. ESPN is driving this story. Now I'm in no way saying that ESPN driving this story means that the story isn't true, rather, ESPN and Mark Schwartz clearly have something to gain from it and that can't be overlooked. 

So here's where I'm at: I think it was appropriate for Syracuse to place Fine on administrative leave. It shows that they're taking this situation seriously and acting quickly, but administrative leave is very different than being fired. The University shouldn't rush to judgement and neither should we. Again, I urge people to let this play out before jumping to conclusions, in any direction. As a lifelong Syracuse fan, I'm hoping this story doesn't hold water. And if it does, I'm hoping there aren't other victims and that the university in no way covered anything up. If it turns out they did, we as fans should demand the same "justice" here as we did at Penn State. But once again, right now, these are two very very different situations. And we're going to have to wait and see how this unfolds.

PS - One more thought before I got to sleep. The players on our team clearly have done nothing wrong in this situation, but merely by being forced to deal with this situation, they're going to suffer. If you're a fan of Syracuse basketball, regardless of whether or not you believe the accusations against Fine, the best thing you can do is continue to support the players on this team. Come out for the Colgate game on Saturday, come out to MSG for the NIT Tip-Off Games, cheer loud, cheer proud, and make the players know that regardless of what happens, we have their back.

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