NEW YORK - FILE: Assistant coach Bernie Fine of the Syracuse Orange looks on from the sidelines during their game against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York City. According to reports on November 27, 2011, Syracuse University has fired assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine over allegations of child molestation. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Laurie Fine and her attorney, Lawrence Fisher, addressed the media Wednesday morning to discuss Fine's libel lawsuit against ESPN.
Laurie Fine addressed the media Wednesday morning and stated that she "never engaged" in the "despicable" acts reported by ESPN during its coverage of the molestation charges levied against her husband, former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
Earlier in the day, Fine's attorneys filed a complaint in U.S. District Court claiming ESPN, reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Arthur Berko "spitefully destroyed Laurie Fine's reputation" during its coverage of the sexual abuse allegations against her husband late last year. The suit also claims ESPN's actions were done largely "in an attempt to capitalize financially in the tragic wake of the Penn State Abuse Scandal" centered around former Nittany Lion assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The press conference was held in front of the Belhurst Castle in Geneva, N.Y., instead of Syracuse because, according to Fine's attorney, Lawrence Fisher, Fine can no longer go out in public in the Syracuse area without being harassed.
"The personal life that has been stolen from Laurie is why we are here today," Fisher said.
In a short statement, Fine claimed that ESPN's lies have resulted in her being forced to live in seclusion for the past six months, and that she fears she will no longer be able to engage in the charity work that she has enjoyed for decades. She also stated that her husband is behind her and the lawsuit "100 percent."
"It is impossible for me to describe what ESPN has taken away from me," Fine said.
Last November, ESPN aired a taped phone conversation between Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis, the former Syracuse ball boy who was the first to accuse Bernie Fine of molestation. The conversation seemed to indicate that Laurie Fine was aware of her husband's sexual relationship with Davis. The network also published reports claiming Fine knew of her husband's abuse of Davis, had sex with Davis herself and had sex with members of the Syracuse basketball team.
According to Fisher, ESPN acted with "absolute malice" in taking portions of the phone conversation between Laurie Fine and Davis, "doctoring" them, and then airing them "out of context." He added that he has already had settlement discussions with attorneys for ESPN, and that if the lawsuit ultimately goes to court, ESPN will be "devastated" by a decision.
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