AUBURN — Zachary Tomaselli, who has accused a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach of sexual abuse, was sentenced Wednesday to serve three years and three months in state prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy.
The 23-year-old Lewiston man appeared in Androscoggin County Superior Court where he was also sentenced to serve six years of probation following his release from prison.
He was given one week to report to Androscoggin County Jail. That will give Tomaselli time to wean himself off methadone, a drug he had been using in an effort to break his prescription drug addiction, his lawyer confirmed Wednesday.
Tomaselli had pleaded guilty in December to two felonies: gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact, as well as two misdemeanor charges of visual sexual aggression against a child.
During his sentencing, Tomaselli apologized to the victim. He said he had been angry that he had been abused and that his abusers "weren't facing justice."
In a passing reference to the former Syracuse coach at the end of his statement, Tomaselli said: "It is so sad that there are people who feel that the Bernie Fine incident had anything to do with this case at all. It almost disgusts me that people feel that my coming forward about my abuse was not justified and that only the victim's innocence was stolen."
He blamed his "psychological issues" for his actions, he said. He lost his family because of his homosexuality and lost his innocence to "powerful men I trusted," leaving him "extremely bitter," he said.
Tomaselli said he was not a pedophile. "I do not like little boys or young teens," he said. He said he would fight the law that requires he be listed publicly as a sex offender.
Justice Robert Clifford imposed a 12-year sentence on Tomaselli on the gross sexual assault charge, but suspended all of it except three years and three months. That charge, a Class A felony, was punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Clifford also imposed a probation term of six years. After serving his prison term, Tomaselli will not be allowed contact with children under age 18. He won't be allowed contact with the victim or his family. He must undergo sex offender counseling. He won't be allowed to have or drink alcohol and will have to take all of his prescribed medicines.
Tomaselli also won't be allowed to have or abuse sexually stimulating materials and shouldn't have access to the Internet except by permission from his probation officer. He also will be barred from any location that's frequented by children under 18.
One year ago, Tomaselli was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on 11 counts of sex crimes stemming from his abuse of the 13-year-old boy. The indictment comprised four felonies and seven misdemeanors, including gross sexual assault, a Class A felony, tampering with a victim, a Class B felony, and two counts of unlawful sexual contact, Class C felonies.
Clifford sentenced Tomaselli on the single charge of unlawful sexual contact, punishable by up to five years in prison, to three years and three months to be served at the same time as the Class A crime. Clifford also sentenced Tomaselli to serve two concurrent terms of 364 days in jail while in prison. That means Tomaselli should only serve three years and three months in prison, but could serve the remaining eight years and nine months of his underlying sentence if he were to violate his probation.
Tomaselli's attorney, Justin Leary, didn't argue for a lesser sentence.
While in prison, Tomaselli is expected to seek sex-offender counseling, Leary said.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden told the judge that the case was "exceptionally difficult" to reach a plea agreement in consultation with the victim's family and, "not without some reluctance," given the nature of the crimes. The agreed-upon sentence "shook the confidence of the family," Worden said.
Despite "exceptionally strong" evidence, the victim and his family would have been put through the traumatic ordeal once again had the case gone to trial, Worden said.
The victim's family attended the sentencing.
The sexual abuse charges stemmed from incidents that began in August 2009, according to the Androscoggin County grand jury indictment. Tomaselli met his victim at a day camp where Tomaselli worked as a counselor; the crimes occurred later, not at the camp.
The boy was 13 when the abuse started, then turned 14 when the abuse continued.
Tomaselli went public with his own sexual abuse allegations, along with two other accusers, against former Syracuse associate head coach Fine, who, Tomaselli said, molested him in 2002 when he was 13 years old. The U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating. Tomaselli's is the only claim that hasn't expired by statute. No charges have been brought in that case. Fine, 66, was fired from his position at Syracuse. Tomaselli sued Fine but later dropped the suit.