ESPN said Monday that it sat on a 2002 taped telephone conversation between the wife of Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine and Bobby Davis, the young man who has accused Fine of molesting him, because it could not corroborate the charges. Fine was fired on Sunday after ESPN finally played the tape after two other young men came forth to accuse him of molestation. ESPN's failure to act on the tape -- if nothing else, by bringing it to the attention of the authorities -- was being condemned on its own website by readers, many of whom compared its inaction to that of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who remained silent about his knowledge of alleged attacks on boys by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. They note that the tape itself contains sufficient corroboration -- by Fine's wife Laurie. At one point, Davis asks her, "Do you think I'm the only one that he's ever done that to?" Laurie Fine replies, "No ... I think there might have been others but it was geared to ... there was something about you." Her husband, she says, "needs help." ESPN explained that it had been unable to confirm that the voice on the tape was actually Laurie Fine's. Slate columnist Tom Scocca opined that the Sandusky story put pressure on ESPN to release the Fine tape. "The network was beaten badly on covering the Penn State scandal, and here it had another potential abuse story gathering dust. So rather than getting beaten again, ESPN decided it was time to act like it knew the things it had known all along."
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