Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - ESPN has released the full recording of a conversation between Bobby Davis and Laurie Fine that is at the center of a scandal involving former Syracuse University men's basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine.
In November, ESPN aired an interview in which Davis and his step-brother, Mike Lang, told ESPN that Bernie Fine molested them when they were ball boys for the Orange. Shortly afterward, the network released a portion of a recorded telephone conversation between the assistant coach's wife and Davis
that suggested she was aware of an inappropriate relationship between Bernie Fine and Davis.
On Wednesday, Laurie Fine and her attorney announced that they were suing ESPN and reporter Mark Schwarz for libel
. When questioned about the recording, Fine's attorney Lawrence Fisher asserted that the portion used by ESPN on the air had been heavily edited or manipulated.
"It seriously misleads and misrepresents the conversation that occurred," Fisher said.
ESPN rebuffed the lawsuit shortly after the press conference.
An ESPN official, David Scott, said, "The suit is without merit and we stand by our reporting."
When NewsChannel 9 reached out to ask ESPN why it had chosen to release the entire recording now, Scott said, "We felt it was an appropriate part of our news coverage relating to Wednesday's lawsuit."
Fisher contends that the full recording supports his client's case.
"Laurie Fine celebrates the release of this audiotape in its 47 minute version as it dooms the reporting of ESPN as defamatory," he said in a written response to NewsChannel 9.
He also asserted that the tape "confirms that Bobby Davis was never sexually molested by Bernie Fine" and that Laurie Fine cautions Davis from interacting with her husband because of his accusations and also establishes that she "looks out for Bobby Davis as a mother would."
Fisher says he believes the recording was posted as an "obvious public relations tactic by ESPN aimed to desensitize the community to the defamation deriving from it."