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Posted at 05:08 PM ET, 12/20/2011

Report: Bill Conlin, Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist, accused of sexually abusing children in 1970s

Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist and Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Conlin has been accused of molesting four individuals when they were children.

According to a lengthy and graphic report by the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday afternoon, three women and one man have come forward with allegations that Conlin sexually abused them in the 1970s.

Conlin,77, retired Tuesday from the Daily News after more than four decades at the newspaper. He received the 2011 J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Conlin’s niece, Kelley Blanchet, said her uncle molested her when she was a child and called it “a tragedy.”

“People have kept his secret,” she said. “It’s not just the victims, it’s the victims’ families. There were so many people who knew about this and did nothing.”

Conlin’s lawyer, George Bochetto, speaking for his client told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Nancy Phillips: “Mr. Conlin is obviously floored by these accusations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago. He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name.”

The four accusers provided videotaped testimony about their experiences in 2010, intending to press charges. New Jersey has no statute of limitations on sex crimes, but that law — enacted in 1996 — is not retroactive.

The accusations come in the wake of the massive child sex abuse scandal involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and more recent allegations against former Syracuse assistant men’s basketball coach Bernie Fine. Blanchet said the Penn State scandal brought back memories and led them to go public with their accusations.

In a Nov. 11 column titled “‘Tough’ guys are talking about Sandusky,” Conlin wrote:

“Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own (behind) on the line before or after the fact. But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions.”

Blanchet’s parents — both quoted in Tuesday’s report — said their daughter told them of the alleged abuse after it happened, and both wish they had taken more action or reported the incident to the police.

The mother of two of the other accusers, Kevin and Karen Healey, also did not call the police, but instead said she and other mothers told one of their husbands, who they asked to confront Conlin.

“I decided the wrong thing,” Barbara Healey told the Inquirer.

“Nobody called the cops,” Karen Healy, now 44, said. “Everyone went back to living their lives.”

More from Washington Post Sports:

Penn State scandal timeline: How the investigation unfolded

Mike McQueary testifies: I saw Sandusky molesting boy

Sandusky suspicions swept aside by Penn State administration

Bernie Fine scandal: Fourth man accuses ex-Syracuse coach of abuse

By  |  05:08 PM ET, 12/20/2011

 
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