Third Alleged Victim of Bernie Fine Abuse, May Be Lying

Zach Tomaselli says father abused him, but most victims don't become molesters.

Dec. 7, 2011— -- Zach Tomaselli, the 23-year-old who came forward as the third victim to allege he was molested by former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, has admitted to sexually abusing a 13-year-old from Maine.

In what is commonly known in the sex assault world as the "cycle of abuse," Tomaselli has also said he was abused by his own father, a charge that he denies.

Tomaselli, who is from Lewiston, Maine, met the boy he allegedly abused, who is now 14, at a camp where he served as a counselor.

According to an interview with the Kansas State University student newspaper, Tomaselli says he met Fine at an autograph session and was later invited to travel with the Syracuse basketball team on a trip to Pittsburgh.

He alleges it was on this trip they spent the night together watching pornography and, "I let him touch me."

"Each time I answered with a shrug," he said of Fine, as the coach allegedly urged Tomaselli to masturbate. "I felt a lot of shame about what I was watching. I felt like it was my fault for watching it."

Timeline on Syracuse University Sex Scandal

Sex abuse experts say that the case unveils a murky truth: An estimated 50 percent of those charged with sex crimes say they had been molested as children. But most victims do not go on to commit sex crimes, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

"It can happen, but it's not inevitable," said Ken Lanning, a former FBI agent and author of the book, "Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis."

"Parents of a molested child should not think the child is doomed to be a molester," he said. "If that were true, the majority of child molesters would be women not men, because they are more often victims."

A 1996 report by the federal General Accounting Office reviewed 25 studies that looked at a connection between child molestation and future sex crimes, concluding that even though a significant number of offenders claimed they had been victims, there was no link.

Just this morning at a press conference, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick revealed that school records undermine Tomaselli's allegation that he was molested by Fine in 2002, according to the Post Standard newspaper.

Fitzpatrick said he was turning over to Fine's defense lawyers "exculpatory evidence" that would be helpful to the defense.

Some online commenters were horrified that victims of sex abuse might go on to hurt others and accused Tomaselli of using victimization as "an excuse."

One, who admitted to being molested herself, wrote on Jezebel, "I never had the slightest interest in harming any child ... As a SURVIVOR of abuse, I am only too aware of the evil in what was done to me, and would NEVER for a moment consider perpetuating that kind of hurt on anyone else, ever.

"Was I a helpless victim of abuse as a child who should be held utterly blameless for what happened to me? Absolutely. But I am so utterly sick of the 'It's not my fault I did xxxx, I'm a victim.' argument. At some point, you become an adult and are responsible for your actions, regardless of your upbringing."

Even Lanning admits convicted molesters will lie about their sexual past and the statistics on cycles of abuse are usually self-reported.

When one Oregon study required convicted offenders to take a polygraph and threatened to sent them back to jail if they lied, the number of victims-turned-molester was actually only about 20 to 30 percent, according to Lanning.

How a child is molested and by whom at what age, is also a determinant.

"When you say you were molested, what does that mean?" he asked. "One guy shows you his penis? Every day for 10 years, you were molested by your father? Someone held a knife to your throat? All molestations are not the same."

Cultural taboos make it particularly difficult for male victims to report and emotionally deal with molestation by other men.

One in 33 Boys Is a Victim of Sex Abuse

"Boys are not supposed to be victims," he said. "The question invites a raging debate. The reality is there may be some differences in the intrinsic characteristics of males and females or gender roles in our society."

According to the Rape, Abuse and Assault National Network (RAINN), one in 33 boys is a victim of sexual abuse. While abuse is difficult for boys and girls, males tend to have additional challenges.

"It calls into question their masculinity," said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. "It raises sexual identity issues. A lot who are abused by men ask if it makes them gay. If in some way they found the abuse physically pleasurable it conflicts with their overall sense of shame and guilt."

To molest a child is "a decision, an act of free will," said Berkowitz. "Nothing in your past makes you do anything terrible."

As for claims by Zach Tomaselli that he was a victim while facing charges of molestation himself, Berkowitz said, "I can understand why he would want to do it."

"People who commit violent crimes look for any reason to reduce their culpability and look for excuses for why they shouldn't be punished," Berkowitz said. "I don't mean to sound harsh, but trying to pass the blame onto someone else – this is all about person responsibility and the action he took."

The Associated Press has reported that Tomaselli had pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of molestation in the case, but now says that he will plead guilty.