This isn't good for either the University or the police department
Syracuse, NY - Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick today promised a complete investigation into what was known and done in the past about the allegations of sexual misconduct by Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
"I want to know who knew what, what they knew, what they did about it and what they didn't do about it," Fitzpatrick said.
The county's top prosecutor said his office was never notified when Syracuse Police were notified of the complaints back in 2002 or 2003 and when SU conducted its own investigation of the allegations in 2005.
"My goal is to treat this as an active investigation," Fitzpatrick said, noting Chief Assistant DA Christine Garvey will be handling the matter as the head of the office's Special Victims unit.
Fine was placed on administrative leave Thursday after ESPN aired a story about former SU ballboy Bobby Davis' allegations that Fine had sexually molested him for years from the time he was 12 or 13 years old.
Davis, now 39, claimed he first reported the matter to Syracuse police in 2002 and was told no charges could be pursued because the statute of limitations had passed.
Fitzpatrick admitted today to being very concerned if that's what happened.
"We worked a long time to get people to follow the proper protocols when it comes to abused children. Telling someone to hit the road because of the statute of limitations is not what should happen," he said.
Even if no charges could be pursued against a suspect because of the statute of limitations, authorities would want to know if the suspect was in a position to reoffend with other victims, Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said he doesn't know what if anything was done by the police after Davis made his first complaint because there is no indication his office ever was notified of the situation.
He said he's waiting today to see if the police department generated any reports at that time.
Fitzpatrick was equally disturbed by what happened when Davis later made the same allegations to SU in 2005. SU officials reported Thursday that an investigation at that time turned up no evidence to support Davis' allegations.
The DA said his office again was never notified by SU about Davis' allegations. Instead, SU had an investigation conducted by the local law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, Fitzpatrick said.
With "hundreds of years" of investigative experience in his office, Fitzpatrick said he could not "understand the mindset" of someone turning to a private investigation instead of contacting his office.
According to Fitzpatrick, a copy of the law office's report was provided to his office this morning. That's the first he had seen it, but Fitzpatrick said he had not yet had time to go through it thoroughly.
Fitzpatrick said he did not understand why his office was never notified on either of those occasions when Davis came forward with his allegations.
"But I will get to the bottom of that," he said.
When contacted about the matter Thursday night, Fitzpatrick said he had talked to Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler after being asked about the reported arrest of an SU official. Fowler said there was no such arrest but also never indicated there was an investigation underway now, the DA said.
Police then reported the department was looking into the Davis matter.
Asked if he was left out of the loop again Thursday as the Fine story began developing, Fitzpatrick declined comment.
Fitzpatrick said it was "unlikely" that the matter will be presented to a grand jury without the possibility of pursuing criminal charges. But he said he always has the option of asking a grand jury to look into a matter and issue a report.
Fitzpatrick said he would "feel ill at ease" about facing the media in the future to answer questions about the case if he does not know what happened. That's why his office will pursue investigating what people knew, when they knew it and what, if anything, they did about it, he said.