Defamation Lawsuit Rocks Syracuse University Athletic Department

Last week, attorneys representing Syracuse University men’s basketball coach, Jim Boeheim, urged  the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two former ball boys. The plaintiffs filed charges alleging they were sexually abused by former assistant Syracuse University men’s basketball coach, Bernie Fine. Jim Boeheim stated that the sexual abuse allegations are merely the result of opportunism sparked by Penn State’s sexual abuse scandal.

Syracuse Basketball Defamation Lawsuit Background

The two ball boys worked with Syracuse University during the 1980’s. Bobby Davis, who is now 40, and his 45 year old stepbrother, Michael Lang, allege that Fine repeatedly touched them sexually while they were working for the university’s basketball team. Fine contends he did nothing wrong and no charges have been filed for the sexual abuse case yet. However, the federal government is probing Fine due to an ongoing investigation into the matter.

Defamation Allegations

The two ball boys, Michael Lang and Bobby Davis, alleged they were defamed by head coach Boeheim. Lang and Davis are suing both Syracuse University and head coach Boeheim; documents were filed in Syracuse branch of the New York State Court. Their complaints allege that they were sexually abused by Bernie Fine. The two ball boys also allege that Boeheim and the school should have been aware of the ongoing abuse.

Request for Defamation Dismissal

Boeheim’s attorney filed dismissal request on Tuesday. The attorneys argue the statements made by Boeheim were within the grounds of protection offered by the first amendment, as his words were simply a passionate plea in favor of the coaching staff at the university.

Boeheim has stood out in support of his assistant coach Fine. The head coach initially stated the two ball boys were simply looking to take advantage of the recent scandal that rocked Penn State’s long-time football coach, Joe Paterno.. Boeheim has since apologized for his statements. His apology came after criticism from a host of victim advocates.

Boeheim’s attorneys have stated again that the coach knew nothing about the alleged sexual abuse by Fine. Boeheim’s attorneys also argued that the coach’s statements were merely a matter of opinion, and the coach had every right to express this opinion. The offense that was taken by the ball boys holds no sway, and Boeheim’s words were protected by his constitutional right to freedom of speech.

Davis and Fine’s attorney, Gloria Allred, has refused to comment about the latest issues in the ongoing case. The courts are currently considering the latest motion, and it may be several months before a decision in the case is made.

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