A U.S. Attorney's probe continues into the case of Bernie Fine. The former associate basketball coach at Syracuse University is under investigation for alleged sexual abuse. The case sparked tensions between the Onondaga County DA and Syracuse Police. And now those tensions may be on the increase. YNN's Bill Carey said police believe DA Fitzpatrick, despite his denials, may have been aware of the allegations against Fine as long as 10 years ago.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- District Attorney William Fitzpatrick made it clear in December. He believed the story told by former Syracuse University ball boys Bobby Davis and Michael Lang, who claimed abuse at the hands of former associate SU basketball coach Bernie Fine.
Fitzpatrick telling reporters he only wished he had known about Davis' claim in 2002.
William Fitzpatrick said, “I wish I had met you as a prosecutor in 2002. Even more important, I wish I had met you as a prosecutor back in the 1980s. We wouldn't be here today.”
Fitzpatrick claiming he had never known about the case until a report last November on ESPN. But now, in response to an inquiry from YNN, Syracuse Police are raising questions about that claim.
The questions are based on conversations between Police Chief Frank Fowler and the man who held his job back in 2002, Dennis DuVal.
Fowler said, “Initially, I'd spoken to Chief DuVal in the very beginning of this. In fact, it was the same day that this story broke, because I wanted to find out, what did the Syracuse Police Department do when we originally got this information?”
Fowler said DuVal said Fitzpatrick's office had been made aware of the complaint filed back in 2002.
“His initial response to me was, yes, they knew about it,” said Fowler.
Becky Thompson, now a deputy police chief, was head of the abused persons unit in 2002 and had spoken with DuVal back then about the Davis claims.
Thompson said, “He had made a comment that, without a viable witness, that we weren't going to drag somebody through the mud, at that time. And I also recall him saying something about him having some sort of conversation with Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio.”
Fitzpatrick denies Trunfio was told or that he had any knowledge of Davis' charges 10 years ago, and says police have nothing to back up the claim.
William Fitzpatrick said, “You document things in the police business. You look at reports. You look at affidavits. You look at confidential memorandums that are called 10-1s. Every single thing, up this point, no one has indicated what Becky Thompson is now claiming.”
But police also point to a timeline of events. DuVal, they say, said at first he had told the DA's office. And, the DA says he, in fact, did talk to DuVal on the night of the ESPN report.
Fitzpatrick said, “I was in Nashville and I spoke to former Chief DuVal and he was giving me a very brief thumbnail sketch about what was happening and I expressed incredulity. I was shocked.”
Three days later, DuVal told Fowler he couldn't remember telling the D-A about the Fine case.
Why the changing story?
Fowler said, “I've very seldom heard Dennis DuVal say things that he didn't mean. Whether it was initially or afterwards. So, that's a very difficult question to answer.”
DuVal has yet to respond to phone calls for a comment.