Syracuse Adopts New Policies After Review of Sexual Abuse Claims

Syracuse University will introduce new training for athletic department employees and change its policy on the supervision of minors following a review of its handling of an accusation of sexual assault against Bernie Fine.

Bobby Davis in September 2005 told the school that former assistant basketball coach Fine molested him when he was a ball boy aged about 12. The school’s investigation concluded at the time that Davis’s claims were unsubstantiated. Fine, 66, was fired in November after the allegations were made public. No criminal charges have been brought and Fine denies wrongdoing.

A special committee of the school’s Board of Trustees found that Syracuse’s review of the allegations was prompt, appropriate and undertaken in good faith, the school said today in a statement on its website.

“Our report establishes that there was no coverup with respect to Davis’s claims and that the university investigated those claims in a good faith and professional manner in 2005,” Deryck Palmer, the chair of the special committee, said in the statement. “However, the investigative process was less than it could and should have been, given the nature of the matter.”

The 52-page report concluded that, in hindsight, the university should have made direct contact with law enforcement and that the trustees should have been informed of Davis’s claims.

In addition to training and changes to supervision rules in the athletic department, the school will adopt revised notification protocols during summer programs, Chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a letter to students, faculty and staff.

“Our goal remains fostering a safe and secure environment for all members of the university and the community,” Cantor said. “The most important things now are that we continue to learn from these events over the long term and that anyone impacted by abuse or harassment is able to come forward in a supportive environment.”

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