Bill Conlin accused of molestation

Three women and a man said they were molested as children by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, according to a report published Tuesday on the Philadelphia Inquirer website.

The four alleged victims told the Inquirer they were molested by Conlin in the 1970s, when they were between the ages of 7 and 12. The Inquirer reported that prosecutors took statements from the four last year but could not act on the allegations because they are beyond the statute of limitations. The law in New Jersey does not allow for cases to be prosecuted that occurred and were not reported prior to 1996.

One of the alleged victims was Kelley Blanchet, a niece of Conlin's. Blanchet is currently a prosecutor in Atlantic City, N.J., according to the Inquirer.

"This is a tragedy," Blanchet 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."

Blanchet also told the paper that she and the other alleged victims were speaking out because of the Penn State case, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces charges of molesting young boys. He faces a trial in 2012. She said the case brought back painful memories.

Conlin, who received the 2011 J.G. Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing" from the Baseball Hall Of Fame, was a regular contributor to ESPN's The Sports Reporters in the early years of the show, which debuted in 1998. He last appeared on the show in late 2002.

Conlin, who is 77, retired from the Daily News on Tuesday. His attorney, George Bochetto, issued a statement to the Inquirer, saying: "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."