The wife of fired Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine claimed Wednesday that ESPN maliciously damaged her reputation by broadcasting salacious stories about her and about claims that her husband molested ball boys.
Laurie Fine held a news conference Wednesday and threatened to file a libel lawsuit in federal court against the cable network and two employees.
ESPN in November broke the story of two former Syracuse ball boys, Robert Davis and Michael Lang, who claimed they were molested by Bernie Fine decades ago.
"I'm here today as a wife and a mother who has had to endure the trauma of being smeared in the public as a monster," she said. "My life has been destroyed."
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said the complaint is without merit and the network stands by its reporting.
Bernie Fine has denied wrongdoing and hasn't been charged.
Federal authorities opened an investigation into him following molestation allegations by a third man, Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, who has since said he lied. The local prosecutor has called Davis and Lang credible but said the alleged crimes occurred too long ago to pursue.
Laurie Fine, with her two daughters at her side, said her husband called to wish her luck Wednesday. She would not address whether they are still together. "Bernie does support this lawsuit, and he's behind me 100 percent," she said.
Laurie Fine said she was the victim of "treacherous lies" and that the attention has forced her to live in seclusion for the past six months and give up her charity work.
"They should apologize and retract these horrible lies reported about me," she said.
The accusations by Davis and Lang, quickly picked up by other national media, roiled the Syracuse team's then-perfect season and brought criticism to head coach Jim Boeheim. Boeheim initially called Davis a liar out to capitalize on the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal but soon softened his stance.