We've yet to go five straight days without a new significant angle or twist in the Bernie Fine story, which is now more than a month old. The story keeps sprouting new legs, as new claims come forward, lawsuits get filed and the investigation of Fine continues to run its course on a federal level.
The Post-Standard published a story Thursday that details the claims of an alleged new victim, the fourth one to publicly state he was sexually molested by Bernie Fine. He's also the oldest of the four alleged victims, and so his story dates back further than any previous ones -- all the way to 1969, well before Fine was a coach at Syracuse.
Floyd VanHooser, who celebrated his 56th birthday Tuesday behind the walls of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, says Fine began sexually abusing him when VanHooser was 14 years old, in 1969. The Syracuse man, who is serving 16 years to life for repeatedly burglarizing homes in Central New York, told The Post-Standard Wednesday in an hourlong prison interview that the fired SU coach took him in as an orphan and sexually abused him. VanHooser’s parents both died before he was 13 years old. VanHooser said he lived with Fine on and off for nearly 40 years.VanHooser was interviewed by police last month in prison, he told the newspaper, well before he knew anything of this case.
The details of what Fine allegedly had VanHooser do are skeevy (easy to find in the Post-Standard's story linked above), but remember, this is coming from a man currently in the clink. His story is his story, and it's all just allegations right now. What's more, the statute of limitations, like it did with Mike Davis and Bobby Lang, has long since passed for VanHooser in this case if most of his stories are in fact true.
However, VanHooser maintains the sexual behavior on behalf of Fine lasted for four decades. Davis has also said he took repeated abuse in the '80s and '90s from Fine. The most shocking thing about the story: VanHooser said Fine "pressured" him to perform sexual acts this year in exchange for money ($300). That happened this past summer at Fine's on-campus office, according to VanHooser. Fine was fired from Syracuse Nov. 27. If somehow true, a game-changer, as it could allow local action and a re-opening of the case against Fine.
Fine has maintained his innocence from the start and was freed of all possible local charges on Dec. 7. VanHooser's claims were downplayed/tossed aside by Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who didn't find them reputable, unlike those of Davis and Lang, who filed a defamation lawsuit against Syracuse and Jim Boeheim this week. Victim No. 3, Zach Tomaselli, filed a lawsuit against Fine last week.
"There simply is no victim No. 4," Fitzpatrick said on Dec. 7, vaguely referring to VanHooser's claims.
VanHooser was indicted this year on eight counts of burglary and petit larceny for breaking into four homes, according to The Post-Standard. He is serving 16-to-life.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE