SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Over nine years, former ball boy Bobby Davis told his story of sexual abuse at the hands of Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine to the police, the college, the local newspaper, and a national TV network. Each time, either he was too late or his story couldn't be proved.

When he went public again last month, he was maligned by Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim as an opportunist and a liar.

On Wednesday, a top law enforcement official became the first to say publicly that Davis was a victim and had been abused by Fine.

At his news conference to explain that the statute of limitations would keep him from conducting an investigation, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick addressed Davis directly.

"Bobby, I'm sorry it took so long," he said. "I wish I had met you as a prosecutor in 2002. Even more importantly, I wish I had met you as a prosecutor back in the 1980s. We wouldn't be here today."

Davis, his stepbrother Michael Lang and a third man, Zach Tomaselli, of Lewiston, Maine, say Fine preyed on them when they were boys.

The statute of limitations expired five years after Davis and Lang say they were molested. But the federal statute of limitations in place in 2002, when Tomaselli says he was abused by Fine in a Pittsburgh hotel room, allowed a victim to bring charges until he was 25; Tomaselli is 23.

Fitzpatrick, however, said school and travel records may undercut Tomaselli's account that Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.

Fine's lawyers, Donald Martin and Karl Sleight, said in a statement that it appears "that there is proof that Tomaselli fabricated this allegation."

Tomaselli's phone rang unanswered Wednesday. Tomaselli also is charged in Maine with molesting a teenage boy and said this week that he'll plead guilty.

The 65-year-old Fine, who had been Boeheim's top assistant since 1976, has adamantly denied wrongdoing. The U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating and has seized computers, cameras, phones, and records during searches of his office, home, and locker.

Even with the support of the district attorney, neither Lang nor Davis can bring civil action against Fine.

The statute of limitations in New York on bringing a civil suit for child sexual abuse is five years after the victim turns 18.