While the fervor of the Bernie Fine saga is long behind us, there was always no doubt in my mind that the story was far from over. Testimonies and depositions filed to court as part of Laurie Fine's libel lawsuit against ESPN have begun trickling out and you can expect things to bubble up once again.
The most shocking new allegation is that of FBI agent Douglas Astralaga, who says in a deposition that he believes former SU basketball assistant Bernie Fine tried to molest him when he was 15-years-old in 1981. According to statements, Astralaga says Fine invited him to play basketball twice. The first time Fine "lingered" on his body a bit too long when touching it. The second time he confronted Fine for making him feel "uncomfortable" and Fine denied any wrongdoing and also seemed to have lied about his intentions to recruit Astralaga.
Astralaga's bother attended an SU basketball camp for one day before Astralaga told him not to return. His brother now works for ESPN and contacted him in 2011 when ESPN first broke the story. Astralaga told them his story off the record but was not allowed to speak on the record by the FBI, which still employs him.
One of the sticking points for the Fine allegations this whole time has been that of the four accusers to come forward, two admitted to lying and the other two were stepbrothers. We've been looking for an independent person to come forward with legitimate allegations and perhaps Astralaga is that person.
Meanwhile, testimony that Laurie Fine made in 2014 has come out as well and it paints a curious picture of what Fine says was going on in the infamous recorded phone call between her and accuser Bobby Davis. Despite what sounds like overt discussion of sexual abuse, Fine claims that she was talking about "money lending" and that she was being sarcastic at times and not fully listening at others. ESPN calls Fine's explanation "absurd on it's face."
Fine also backtracked on earlier claims that the phone call was doctored.
ESPN is asking the judge to find Laurie Fine to be a public figure under the law, which would make it much harder to prove that libel has been committed. Even without that, she will still have to prove that ESPN grossly misrepresented her in their reporting in order to win the case, and that sounds like a tall task right now.