Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – A lawsuit alleging defamation against Syracuse University men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim has been dismissed.
With high-profile attorney Gloria Allred as counsel, former team ballboys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang claimed Boeheim had slandered them after they alleged that former assistant coach Bernie Fine sexually abused them.
When the initial allegations aired on ESPN, Boeheim said the two were out for money.
In his decision, Judge Brian DeJoseph wrote, "Boeheim’s statements would clearly signal to the reasonable reader, that what was being read in the articles published in the days after the initial ESPN report were likely to be an opinion – a biased, passionate, and defensive claim against Boeheim fails as a matter of law."
The judge also rejected claims against SU, saying, "because Plaintiffs’ claim against the University is predicated on the same alleged defamatory statements, Plaintiffs have also failed to state a cause of action against the University."
In November, Boeheim lashed out at Davis, accusing him of opportunism by bringing accusations against Fine to ESPN.
"What are people looking for here? I believe they are looking for money,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “I believe they saw what happened at Penn State and they are using ESPN to get money. That is what I believe. You want to put that on the air? Put that on the air.”
He declined to apologize for his comments in subsequent interviews but reversed his stance after Fine was fired. The assistant coach was fired by the University after a ESPN aired a recording of a telephone conversation between Davis and a person he claimed was Fine's wife, Laurie Fine. In the recording, the person alleged to be Laurie Fine suggested that the former coach may have molested Davis.
Later, Boeheim apologized and expressed regret over his comments.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Allred's office issued a release on the judge's decision in which she vowed to continue fighting the decision:
When Bobby Davis came forward years ago and complained about sexual abuse he was ignored. When the allegations were made public he was attacked. It is difficult enough for victims of childhood sexual abuse to come forward. This decision sends the message that you can attack the alleged victim and call him a liar with impunity. It makes it even harder for victims to come forward. We will file an appeal and continue to fight.
The University also issued a statement noting that it was satisfied with the result:
"We have had an opportunity to review the legal papers. We are gratified by the Court's decision dismissing this lawsuit," said Syracuse University Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Kevin Quinn.