The latest child molestation charges center around former Philadelphia sports columnist Bill Conlin, who hastily resigned his position with the Philadelphia Daily News on Tuesday ahead of an expose that alleged he molested multiple children in the 1970s.
Conlin, who was awarded the J.G. Taylor Spink Award this summer, is yet another sports figure to be accused of sexually molesting young children. Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with over 40 counts of sexual abuse of children; former Syracuse coach Bernie Fine has been accused by four different men of sexual abuse; and the CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union was recently accused of sexual abuse.
Deadspin first reported that The Philadelphia Inquirer, owned by the same parent company as the Daily News, was working on a long piece about allegations against Conlin. The former sports columnist is currently avoiding media in his Florida home, but his lawyer did issue a statement after the initial story came out.
Mr. Conlin is obviously floored by these accusations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago, George Bochetto said. He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name.
To best understand the allegations against Conlin, here is an easy-to-read summary of the most important facts:
Allegations Came From a Relative
Three women and one man allege that Conlin molested them in the 1970s, but it's the push by his niece, Kelley Blanchet, that has brought attention to the case. Blanchet, an Atlantic City prosecutor, recently went to authorities about her uncle and decided to go public after the Penn State scandal brought the hurt feelings back up.
Blanchet told the newspaper that Conlin visited her home when she was seven-years old and her family was gone. She says that he put his band between her legs, touched her genitals, and penetrated her with his fingers, stopping only when her brother Ted walked in.
After initially telling her parents about the incident in the 1970s, she had let it go until the death of Conlin's wife in 2009. In Conlin's eulogy for his wife he mentioned his grandchildren and that's when Blanchet realized that she needed to do something in order to protect the safety of his grandchildren.
It was also at the funeral that she found out from another family relative that Conlin had abused her as well when she was a child. The other female relative said she avoided contact with Conlin until he sent her a 10-page letter of apology for what had happened.
Blanchet Meets Other Victims
After deciding that something needed to be done, she found out that other children had been molested by Conlin at around the same time as her. Blanchet got in contact with the Healey family and found out that Kevin and Karen Healey had both been abused.
Kevin Healey, who was a friend of Conlin's son Billy, recalled waking up to seeing Conlin fondling his genitals and leaning toward his body with his mouth.
Healey's mother, Barbara, banned Kevin from going back around the house, but allowed her daughter Karen to continue to visit because she thought Conlin was only into boys. It wasn't until a few years later that Barbara Healey learned that her daughter had also been repeatedly molested by Conlin.
No One Went to the Authorities After it Happened
One of the most shocking aspects of the allegations is that no one went to the authorities after the incidents occurred. Blanchet went to her mother, as did some of the other alleged accusers, but their parents never went to the police to report the child abuse.
The parents decided to avoid going to the police out of respect for Conlin's now deceased wife, and instead decided on issuing stern warnings to the famous sports writer.
Blanchet's father, Harry Hasson, was one person that decided to confront Conlin over the allegations. Hasson told the Inquirer that he was initially furious, but that after Conlin started crying once confronted with the allegations that it took the fight out of him.
He swore to me that he just touched her leg, he said. Then all of a sudden, he started crying, Hasson recalled. He said, 'I swear to God, I just touched her leg.'
It was such a pitiful sight. It took the fight out of me. I wish now I had done something more, but he swore to me, and I believed him.
For the Healey family, Barbara Healey admitted to the Inquirer that she wish that she had went to the authorities on the molestations. She said that she didn't even tell her husband about it because he had a temper and she was afraid about what he might do to Conlin.
Statute of Limitations Have Passed
Blanchet convinced some of the other victims to film taped depositions about the molestations, but despite being a prosecutor, did not realize that the statute of limitations on the crime had already passed.
New Jersey doesn't have a statute of limitations of sexual crimes, but that law wasn't enacted until 1996 and is not retroactive. The past laws would have required someone to report the crimes to the authorities within a five-year period, which no one did.
I am sorry that the system seems to be failing you, wrote Lick, an investigator for the Prosecutor's Office, in an e-mail to Blanchet and Healey. However, the law has tied our hands, in that the statute of limitations has run.