Fine accuser speaks from prison

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Fine  Kevin Rivoli
Kevin Rivoli
Fine

DANNEMORA, N.Y. — A 56-year-old New York prison inmate says former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine began molesting him more than 40 years ago and continued to have sexual contact with him into adulthood.

Floyd VanHooser told The Associated Press during a prison interview Thursday that Fine began sexually abusing him when VanHooser was 14 years old. As an adult, the contact included sex acts for money.

VanHooser is the fourth man to accuse Fine of sexual abuse. He initially made his allegations to the Post-Standard of Syracuse.

Fine was fired Nov. 27 after a 36-year career at Syracuse after three men said he molested them when they were boys.

Fine has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged. A federal investigation is ongoing. His lawyers did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.

VanHooser is serving 16 years to life at Clinton state prison near the Canadian border for several burglaries of Syracuse-area homes. He was sentenced in October as a persistent felony burglar.

Last week, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick referred to a fourth accuser in the Fine case as someone serving a life sentence in prison as a persistent felon, but didn’t disclose his name. But Fitzpatrick said that person’s claims were not credible.

“There simply is no victim No. 4,” Fitzpatrick said.

VanHooser said both his parents died by the time he was 13 and he moved in with Fine at age 14, which is when the abuse started. Though he began running away after six months, VanHooser said he saw Fine on and off for nearly 40 years. He said the sexual contact continued over that period.

VanHooser has listed Fine’s former Syracuse address as his own in the past, including on a tax lien from 1999. VanHooser did painting and other maintenance work on Fine’s home and he also worked for several years at a Syracuse University fraternity house where Fine was an adviser for many years.

Cindy Clarke, a former girlfriend of VanHooser’s and the mother of his 17-year-old daughter, said VanHooser told her of the abuse in 2002.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify people alleging sexual abuse unless they agree to be identified or publicly identify themselves. VanHooser agreed to have his name published.

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