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No State Charges for Former Syracuse Coach Bernie Fine on Sex Abuse Allegations

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In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, photo, Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine watches a college basketball game against Manhattan in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Syracuse, N.Y. (AP)

A New York prosecutor says that former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine will not face charges despite credible allegations of sexual abuse from two former ball boys.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said in a press conference on Wednesday that the statute of limitations has long passed, but he believes the allegations made by Bobby Davis and stepbrother Michael Lang were strong enough for a trial.

"But for the obvious problem of the statute of limitations, their allegations would have resulted in the arrest of Bernie Fine, at least for the misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in the third degree," Fitzpatrick said.

"I make no judgment as to what the outcome of a trial would have been, or whether Mike Lang and Bobby Davis could have withstood the rigors of cross-examination," he added. "It is not my place to pronounce Bernie Fine guilty of anything. It is my place, however, especially in light of recent events, to affirm that these two victims are believable."

He then praised Davis and Lang for having the bravery to come forward.

“Bobby, I’m sorry it took so long. I wish I had met you as a prosecutor back in 2002. More importantly, I wish I had met you as a prosecutor back in the 1980s. We wouldn’t be here today,” Fitzpatrick said during the conference. “Someday your kids are going to ask you why you did what you did. Why did you subject yourself to this scrutiny? Your answer should be easy. You did it because it was the right thing to do.

"And to Mike Lang, who still feels that he could of done more for his brother: Mike it’s never too late to do the right thing,” he continued.

The district attorney also said an investigation into the claims showed that Davis and Lang were credible on “every single criteria” and said that an initial probe handled by the university was inadequate.

Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim, who Fine served under as a top assistant since 1976, is still being questioned about what he might know related to the claims, at first defended his long-time assistant and said the accusations were about making money. Victims' advocates called for him to resign; he later apologized to the accusers.

The Associated Press contributed reporting for this story.

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