Don't bully the victims

Coach's scorn of Syracuse sex case accusers shouldn't go unpunished

Just because something horrible may have happened on Jim Boeheim’s watch, that doesn’t mean it happened under his nose.

 

The Syracuse University head basketball coach is no Joe Paterno, at least not yet. There’s no evidence Boeheim knew anything about the alleged child molestations his longtime assistant Bernie Fine is accused of. We’ll just have to see how this unfolds.

Still, we feel Boeheim should face some very stiff discipline for his outrageous, vicious attacks of the alleged victims in the Fine case. His initial blanket defense of his colleague, and his suggestions the alleged victims were lying in a quest for money, smacks of bullying and intimidation in a potential criminal case.

He was so out of line that the line couldn’t be seen over the horizon anymore.

“What do you think is going to happen at Penn State?” Boeheim asked reporters early on. “You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I’d say about $50 million. That’s what this is about. Money.”

“Atrocious” doesn’t quite cut it. Here we have allegations that his former assistant, recently fired, molested several boys, including two ball boys, over a series of years including on road trips – and Boeheim dismissed it all out of hand and even assigned the worst possible motives to the accusers. We thought that kind of burn-the-victims-at-the-stake approach went out with the Dark Ages.

We don’t know the truth or falsity of the accusations. Reports emerging this week say prosecutors investigating Fine are up against such obstacles as the statutes of limitations on old accusations, and finding corroborating proof.

But thank God the Penn State scandal – in which officials at that university are alleged to have covered up years of child molestations by a former football coach – has likely emboldened victims to walk out of the shadows. Pray Boeheim’s lashing out doesn’t only chill this newfound fervor for justice.

There is absolutely no way Boeheim’s snarling at potential child abuse victims should be allowed to stand unpunished, notwithstanding a forced-sounding written statement he issued in the past week expressing regret and saying he takes the charges seriously.

“If the university really wants to move forward, and create a safe climate for abuse victims, it must take decisive action against Boeheim,” an abuse survivor’s network said this week.

We agree. All eyes are on Syracuse.

 

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