According to a report by Deadspin, the sports world is about to be rocked by another child sex abuse scandal. Following quickly on the heels of the scandals at Penn State and Syracuse, as well as the accusations against former AAU president Bobby Dodd, decorated baseball columnist Bill Conlin is reportedly the subject of allegations of child molestation.
Deadspin broke the news early Tuesday afternoon, revealing that Nancy Phillips of the Philadelphia Inquirer was about to publish a piece on the alleged abuse committed by Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. Deadspin also indicated that Conlin had resigned from his position and hired a lawyer due to the story.
Before that Inquirer story was even published, NBC10 in Philadelphia indicated that Conlin had retired, but not resigned as Deadspin initially reported. NBC10 says this information came from a source within the Daily News. The same source also indicated that more information would be forthcoming later in the day.
Shortly thereafter, Pat Loeb of CBSPhilly reported that the allegations pertained to decades-old incidents involving underage girls. KYW1060 Newsradio, a CBS station in Philly, had reportedly broadcast that same information. Loeb's CBS report also included a response from Conlin's attorney, George Bochetto.
"Mr. Conlin is obviously floored by the allegations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago, Bochetto said. "He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the true facts forward and to vindicate his name."
A Philadelphia native who attended Temple University, Conlin has been a fixture in the Philly sports world for nearly 50 years. After beginning his career with the Philadelphia's Evening Bulletin in 1960, Conlin worked the Phillies' beat for the Daily News for more than two decades before becoming a columnist in 1987. Over the years, he has also been a regular presence on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters." Although he has covered a wide swath of the sporting world, baseball has been his most consistent source material.
In July, Conlin received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Writers' Association of America for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."
While receiving the honor during the 2011 Hall of Fame Weekend at Cooperstown, Conlin discussed the long fallow period in Philadelphia baseball that preceded the club's recent run of success.
"I've got reverse Alzheimer's. But unfortunately, I also remember the bad stuff," Conlin told the crowd at Doubleday Field. "There's nothing I can block out. I can't say, 'I don't exactly remember that happening.' ...I've always been blessed with great long-term memory. My short-term memory, even when I was much younger, is not nearly as sharp."
While accepting the award, Conlin would go on to describe the award as the "cherry on the sundae of my career." Whether these accusations prove to be true or false, the veteran sports scribe certainly didn't envision that career closing in scandal.
In what may be his last column, Conlin addressed the active offseason of the Florida Marlins and summed up the Phillies' chance in 2012. That column, however, won't likely be the one garnering the most attention in the coming days. On Nov. 11, Conlin weighed in on the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
In the column, Conlin's vitriol is largely directed at the Penn State Board of Trustees for the manner in which longtime football coach Joe Paterno was fired and for those "tough guy" commentators who claim that they would have intervened had they be an eyewitness to the crimes that former Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed in 2002.
Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own ass on the line before or after the fact. But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions.
Conlin's brief column does not concern itself with the guilt or innocence of Sandusky, the heinousness of the alleged crimes or even the apparent complicity of so many at State College. Rather, he seems especially concerned with the various reactions in the media and among the decision makers at Penn State who chose to swiftly axe Paterno.
UPDATE: At 4:13 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia Inquirer published Nancy Phillips' story at Philly.com -- a website shared by Conlin's former employer, the Daily News. According to Phillips, four people -- three women and a man -- have come forward and alleged that Conlin abused them as children during the 1970s. Among the alleged victims is Conlin's niece, Kelley Blanchet, who is now a prosecutor in Atlantic City, N.J.
Phillips' unflinching account of the accusations paints a portrait of a serial abuser, preying not only on the friends of his children but also young members of his family. In several cases, alleged victims, or their parents, reportedly confronted Conlin but -- as has been a recurring aspect of the recent abuse scandals around the country -- the police were not called. As was the case with the allegations against former assistant basketball coach at Syracuse Bernie Fine, the statute of limitations for any crimes committed has passed.