Photos from Fine's news conference
Geneva (WSYR-TV) - Attorneys representing Laurie Fine announced on Wednesday morning that their client - the wife of former Syracuse University men's basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine - will sue ESPN and ESPN reporter Mark Schwarz for libel.
To announce the lawsuit they plan on filing, Laurie Fine appeared with her attorney, Lawrence Fisher, at Belhurst Castle in Geneva.
"I'm here today as a wife and a mother who has endured the trauma of being smeared in the public as a monster," Laurie Fine said during the press conference.
In November, ESPN aired interviews with two men - Bobby Davis and Mike Lang - who say Bernie Fine molested them when
they were ball boys for the Syracuse University men's basketball team.
The legal complaint includes the following:This Complaint for Libel arises from Defendant ESPN’s coverage of Robert Davis’ uncorroborated attack upon Plaintiff Laurie J. Fine. Through this coverage, ESPN, acting by and through its agents and employees, including Defendants Mark Schwarz and Arthur Berko, spitefully destroyed Laurie Fine’s reputation in an attempt to capitalize financially in the tragic wake of the Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal. Defendants have ruined Laurie Fine’s reputation by maliciously publishing false and defamatory factual accusations.
In one segment of ESPN's Outside the Lines, the network aired a recorded conversation
that Davis says occurred between himself and Laurie Fine. The recording suggests that Laurie Fine was aware of an alleged inappropriate relationship between Davis and her husband.
After the audio recording was originally broadcast, reporter Mark Schwarz talked about why the network chose to air the recording
In an interview with CNN preceding the news conference, Fisher said that ESPN manipulated the recording and selected samples out of context. Fisher claimed that the recording is 48 minutes long, but ESPN used only a portion of it.
"It seriously misleads and misrepresents the conversation that occurred," Fisher said.
The lawsuit says:
The portions of this tape that are audible, are entirely speculative in nature and are otherwise totally unsupportive of Defendants’ eventual coverage of Davis’ story.
During the press conference, Fisher indicated that he had not heard the recording in its entirety and that only personnel at Syracuse newspaper The Post Standard and ESPN had heard the recording in its entirety.
Fisher said that ESPN "ruined" Fine's life in "a Syracuse community that she loved and served for so many years."
"We are seeking to hold ESPN responsible for their reprehensible actions," Fisher said.
In both the legal document and during the press conference, Fisher stressed that the lawsuit would not extend to Davis. While the lawsuit maintains the claim that Bernie Fine did not have an inappropriate relationship with Davis, Fisher stressed that Laurie Fine does not harbor any ill will toward him.
During the press conference, Laurie Fine described the former ball boy's claims as "Bobby's transparently false story."
Fisher also said that the parameters of the lawsuit do not include Syracuse University.
An ESPN official, David Scott, said, "The suit is without merit and we stand by our reporting."
NewsChannel 9 also reached out to Syracuse University, but the staff there declined to comment on the lawsuit.