Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- It’s been seven months since Mike Lang and Bobby Davis claimed they were molested by former SU assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine. In the following weeks, coach Jim Boeheim made comments that triggered a major legal battle, but it all came to a halt Friday when a judge dismissed the case.
According to local attorney Kim Zimmer, “Sometimes when you call somebody a liar it’s not actionable. Here, the judge found it wasn’t.”
When Gloria Allred accused Jim Boeheim of defamation during a news conference in December, she repeated comments he made hours after his friend was accused of sexual abuse.
The defense argued the statements were an opinion, not an assertion of fact. New York State Law required the judge to put each comment into context, including allegations against Boeheim, which he denies.
"Boeheim saw Bobby Davis lying on the bed in Fine's hotel room,” Allred said in December.
Judge Brian DeJoseph concluded:
“The content, tone, and purpose of 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 opinion - a biased, passionate, and defensive point of view of a basketball coach - rather than objective fact.”
Syracuse University officials would only say they're gratified by the court's decision to dismiss the case.
Allred released the following statement following the judge's decision to dismiss the case:
"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."
An appeal could present a bigger challenge.
"They'll be able to see how carefully Judge DeJoseph went through the facts and applied them to the law and I think they are going to have a hard time,” Zimmer said.
Attorneys NewsChannel 9 spoke with say they’re not surprised by the outcome of the case. These are hard lawsuits to win because everybody has the right to an opinion, making the standard for defamation very strict.