Long-time Philadelphia sportswriter and Hall of Fame baseball columnist Bill Conlin has retired from the Philadelphia Daily News after more than four decades in the wake of allegations that he sexually molested four children in the 1970s.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Conlin touched the genitals of the kids – three girls and a boy -- who were between the ages of seven and twelve at the time.
One of the alleged victims was Kelley Blanchet, one of Conlin's own nieces.
This is a tragedy, she told the Inquirer. “People have kept his secret. It's not just the victims; it's the victims' families. There were so many people who knew about this and did nothing.
Through his attorney George Bochetto, Conlin, 77, refused to comment.
Mr. Conlin is obviously floored by these accusations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago, Bochetto said in a statement.
He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name.
Blanchet, who now works as a prosecutor in Atlantic City, N.J., said she and the other three victims were prompted to speak out now following the devastating child sex abuse scandal that erupted in Penn State University, which brought back waves of difficult memories.
I can't even begin to express the shock, sadness, and outrage I feel by what Bill Conlin is alleged to have done, said Daily News editor Larry Platt, who accepted Conlin's offer to resign.
The Inquirer noted that prosecutors in Gloucester County, N.J. recorded videotaped statements from the four victims last year who provided vivid and graphic accounts of Conlin’s activities.
However, due to the statute of limitations on such crimes, police said they cannot do anything to Conlin.
We would love to see justice in this case, Detective Stacie Lick of the Prosecutor's Office wrote in an e-mail to one of the victims last month, the paper said.
So many people have been victimized by this man, but our hands are tied by the law, which does not let us prosecute.
In any case, this revelation brings to end a sterling sports-writing career. A longtime beat writer for the Phillies baseball club, the Brooklyn-born Conlin won the 2011 J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which placed his name in Cooperstown.
After laboring for two decades in Philadelphia’s local sports scene, Conlin gained national exposure when he joined ESPN’s Sports Reporters program in the late 1980s. He is also the author of two baseball-related books.