A bombshell Philadelphia Inquirer report published Tuesday accuses legendary Daily News columnist Bill Conlin of allegedly sexually molesting four children years ago.
The story, written by Inquirer staff writer Nancy Phillips, states that three women and one man alleged Conlin molested them decades ago.
In vivid accounts, the four say Conlin groped and fondled them, and touched their genitals, in assaults in the 1970s, when they were from ages 7 to 12.
"Mr. Conlin is obviously floored by these allegations which supposedly happened 40 years ago. He's engaged me to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name," said attorney George Bochetto.
Conlin's neighborhood in Washington Township, NJ is buzzing with the news.
"I have neighbors who followed his column everyday and they were as shocked as I was," said Mary Neuteboom, neighbor.
Neuteboom says after hearing about the allegations, she called her own kids at college to make sure they never had an encounter with him.
Since the alleged allegations occurred before 1996, the statute of limitations had run out for pressing criminal charges, but Conlin could still possibly face civil charges.
The alleged victims decided to go public now because the Penn State child sex abuse scandal involving dozens of sex abuse charges against ex defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, has brought back painful memories, the Inquirer reported.
"This is a tragedy," said one Conlin's alleged victims who told the Inquirer that he molested her when she was a child. "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."
Another victim told NBC Philadelphia that he 12 years old when Conlin allegedly reached into his pants and fondled him. The now 48-year-old says the alleged attack happened while he was in Conlin's home for a sleepover with Conlin's son.
Conlin retired early Tuesday afternoon ahead of the report becoming public just before 4:30 p.m. by the company he called home for more than four decades.
Daily News editor Larry Platt accepted Conlin's retirement effective immediately.
"It was a painful conversation," Platt said.
Philadelphia Media Network publisher & CEO Greg Osberg, Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski and Platt tried their best to explain the process that went into exposing the alleged abuse and how the news was being handled in house.
“I am sickened by these allegations,” Osberg said.
“There were several specific claims from multiple victims and their families to support or decision to publish this article,” Osberg added.
Wischnowski said the Inquirer had worked on this story for about a month after one of the alleged victims reached out to the reporter.
Phillips and everyone at the Inquirer tried to treat this story like any other story they would cover, vetting information and not rushing to publish until they had a chance to check out as many angles as possible, Wischnowski said.
Conlin, 77, is a legendary sports writer who was inducted into the sportswriting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame as the J.J. Taylor Spink Award winner just the past summer.
The molestation allegations shocked the Daily News newsroom, according to Platt.
"I think overwhelming there’s a sense of shock, a sense of outrage, a sense of sadness for the victims," Platt said.
Despite the pending bombshell allegations, Conlin continued to work right up until Monday when the Daily News published Conlin's article about how the Phillies new deal with Jimmy Rollins made sense for the ball club.