The Philadelphia Inquirer has published its investigation into claims of child sexual abuse against Hall of Fame Daily News columnist Bill Conlin. We teased it earlier, but the details and the number of people willing to go on the record make Nancy Phillips's story a must-read. Here are the essentials.
• Three women and a man claim Conlin groped them, fondled them, and touched their genitals on multiple occasions in the 1970s, when the kids were between ages 7 and 12 and Conlin was the Phillies beat writer for the Daily News. There are allegations of molestation of other children who the paper wasn't able to locate or weren't willing to tell their stories.
• Kelley Blanchet is a niece of Conlin, and is now a prosecutor in Atlantic City. When she was about 7, she says, Conlin visited her house in Margate, NJ. When they were alone, Blanchet says Conlin "put his hand between her legs and touched her genitals, and penetrated her with his fingers," stopping only when her brother entered the room.
Later, Blanchet's father Harry Hasson confronted Conlin. Says Hasson,
"He swore to me that he just touched her leg. Then all of a sudden, he started crying," Hasson recalled. "He said, 'I swear to God, I just touched her leg.'"
• Blanchet did not see Conlin for years, but attended the funeral of his wife Irma in 2009. There she learned that Conlin had grandchildren, and out of concern for them approached a female relative and confided that she had been molested. That relative, in turn, said that she too had been molested by Conlin for years as a child. It was also at this time that Blanchet learned that friends of Conlin's sons also claimed to have been molested in the '70s.
• Kevin Healey was a friend of Conlin's older son. When he was about 12, he had a sleepover at Conlin's house while Conlin was out covering the Phillies game. Healey says he "awakened in the middle of the night to find Conlin fondling his genitals and leaning toward his body with his mouth."
• Kevin's sister Karen Healey says she was repeatedly molested by Conlin when she was about 10, as were two of her female friends.
• One of those friends, who spoke to the Inquirer but does not want to give her name, says she was 10 years old when she came over to visit Conlin's youngest son. The son was not there, but Conlin found himself alone with her in the family den. Says the woman,
Conlin put his arms around her, and then reached into her pants and put his fingers inside her.
"He just started fondling me and said, 'Does it feel good?' " she said. "He said, 'This is our secret.' "
It was not the first time Conlin had molested her, said the woman. But, following his warning about keeping it secret, she had told no one.
• At no time did any parents go to the police, even though they were aware of what their children said Conlin had done. Instead, they settled for "stern warnings to Conlin and a decision to shield the children from further contact with him." They cited loyalty to Conlin's wife, and a desire to put things in the past. In retrospect, says the mother of Kevin and Karen Healey, they "decided the wrong thing."
• Last year, Blanchet, the Healeys and the woman who declined to be named for the story gave videotaped testimony about Conlin's abuse to New Jersey prosecutors. But New Jersey's 1996 law abolishing statutes of limitations on sex crimes is not retroactive, so there is no legal recourse against Conlin. Says Kevin Healey, "we wanted justice."
More: Our conversation with Conlin the day before the Inquirer's story dropped.
Four say Philly Daily News writer Bill Conlin sexually abused them as children [Philadelphia Inquirer]