AUBURN — A Lewiston man who has accused a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach of sexual abuse and who himself is charged with sexually abusing a child, says a Lewiston police detective coerced him into making possibly incriminating statements during an interview.

Zachary Tomaselli, 23, is charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

His lawyer, Justin Leary, told an Androscoggin County Superior Court judge on Thursday that Tomaselli spoke to a Lewiston detective for more than three hours and spent two hours and 46 minutes of that time repeatedly denying that he’d sexually abused the boy. Leary said the detective then insinuated that Tomaselli could be charged with an even more serious crime — which was untrue — if he didn’t confess. That’s when, Leary said, Tomaselli made his statements.

On Thursday, during closing arguments at a hearing on a motion to suppress statements, Leary asked Justice MaryGay Kennedy to throw out Tomaselli’s videotaped interrogation.

Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden, however, told the judge that the detective hadn’t done any legal research and hadn’t meant to incorrectly quote the law to Tomaselli. He said the detective didn’t coerce Tomaselli; he simply challenged Tomaselli’s story and Tomaselli admitted he’d lied earlier in the interview and then told the truth. Worden asked the judge to keep the interrogation, and Tomaselli’s statements, as part of the case against him.

It was unclear what Tomaselli’s statements were.

Kennedy, who viewed the tape of the interview in chambers earlier this week, did not issue a ruling Thursday.

Tomaselli was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on 11 counts in April. The indictment comprises 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.

On Sunday, Tomaselli went public with his own sexual abuse allegations against former Syracuse associate head coach Bernie Fine, whom Tomaselli says molested him in 2002 when he was 13 years old. Fine, 65, was fired Sunday from his position at Syracuse. Two other men have stepped forward alleging that Fine had also molested them.

Tomaselli has said he was living in upstate New York when he and his father met Fine at an autograph session in November 2001, or possibly earlier, at Syracuse University. Fine called Tomaselli’s father, Fred, the following year to invite his son to go on a trip to Pittsburgh to watch a game in late January. Tomaselli said he rode on a Syracuse University team bus to Pittsburgh and met Fine at a hotel where the team was staying.

After a team dinner, he said, Fine came up to the hotel room and asked Tomaselli to masturbate in front of him, then touched Tomaselli on his stomach and chest while the two watched pornography on TV. Tomaselli said he was sitting on a bed with Fine seated next to him when Fine fondled him “four to five times.”

The incident continued until about 3 a.m. when Tomaselli fell asleep, he said. The next morning, he said, Fine watched as he showered, telling him to leave the door open so that Fine could make sure he didn’t slip and fall. 

A year went by without any other contact, Tomaselli said. Then, he said, Fine invited Fred and Zachary Tomaselli to the Syracuse-Pittsburgh game on Feb. 1, 2003, and, after the game, invited the father and son to his home. Tomaselli said his father couldn’t go because he had to go to work that night at Hancock Field Air National Guard base in Syracuse. Tomaselli went to Fine’s home where he said he was asked by the coach to sleep in the same bed with him. Fine’s wife, who was standing nearby, overheard Fine’s request and heard Tomaselli decline the request, he said.

Tomaselli said he slept on the couch and Fine “didn’t really try to force me into anything.”

Police searched Fine’s home after hearing from Tomaselli, whose allegations may be the only ones that might result in criminal charges against Fine due to the statute of limitations, according to published reports.

Tomaselli said he didn’t think about what happened in the hotel room until the Penn State sex-abuse scandal broke recently, prompting him to go to police.

Fred Tomaselli has told The Associated Press that his son never had any contact with Fine and never went to Pittsburgh to a game. Tomaselli said he has a poor relationship with his father and a couple of years ago filed for a protection from harassment order from him. He said he told police that his father molested him, but waited for the statute of limitations to expire before making the allegations because his mother and siblings depend on his father financially.

After the hearing Thursday, Tomaselli said going public with his allegations has been “very, very draining, very tiring.”

He defended his accusations against Fine.

“It wouldn’t be to my advantage to make something up,” he said.

The sexual abuse charges pending against Tomaselli himself stem from incidents that began in August 2009, according to the Androscoggin County grand jury indictment. 

Tomaselli is accused of exposing himself to a boy on Aug. 1 and then several times over the next two weeks. According to court documents, that activity advanced later in the month to touching and sexual contact. Then, on Aug. 22, investigators say Tomaselli began engaging in sex acts with the boy. Tomaselli continued sexually abusing the boy into the late summer of 2009, court documents said.

Tomaselli also is accused of subjecting the boy to sexual contact on July 1, 2010. In September 2010, investigators say Tomaselli learned he was being investigated in the matter and attempted to convince the alleged victim to withhold information.

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