Thursday, December 22, 2011

PDN columnist Bill Conlin makes the news -- it's all bad

Just when you thought it was safe to ride off into the Christmas holiday in a good mood, think again if you come from Philadelphia and you ever read the sports pages of the newspaper.

Bill Conlin
Late Tuesday we learned longtime Phillies beat writer and columnist Bill Conlin is being accused by six people (more sure to come, if the other recent patterns hold up) of sexually molesting them when they were children in the 1970s. Conlin, who had been quasi-retired, living in Florida and contributing infrequent columns to the Daily News of late, immediately retired when he caught word that the story had broken.

If you're not dyed-in-the-wool Philly, then you won't understand why this relevation rocks us who are.

If sports in Philadelphia are like Crusades or attempts to walk on water, then the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer are like the Bible -- and Bill Conlin was our Gutenberg. He lived in New Jersey, but he "got it" when it came to knowing how Philly fans bleed and boil underneath the skin.

To readers, he was a lifeline. To aspiring writers, he was a muse.

So if these allegations are true ...then damn you, Bill Conlin. You were one of my journalistic heroes.

Just when you start to heal after a round of these stories -- Gerry Sandusky, Bernie Fine, et al -- you get your heart ripped open again, and you start to feel like a child again. Who can I trust?

If the stories are true, then the victims were violated, and those who enjoyed Conlin's prose feel much the same way. And then there's the feelings of his co-workers, and bosses.

Daily News Editor Larry Platt opined openly in a piece he wrote asking how in the hell to report about one of their own. Readers, in comments that were at first not allowed, then allowed with careful moderated scrutiny, either felt the newspaper went too far with the story, or not far enough. A newsroom full of people had to look each other in the eye and wonder, "How were we supposed to know?"

Conlin can stay in his Largo condo and sit comfortably, knowning that he cannot and will not go to prison for what the victims say he did. The statue of limitations apparently runs 15 years on molestation charges, and since all this happened prior to 1996, there will be no Gerry Sanduky-like treatment for Conlin.

I'm sure we all agree we want this to stop. We can only protect those we can reach, and hope that individually we can widen the circle of protection. If you have children, sometime soon you have to teach the lessons, if you haven't already ... if someone touches you where you don't want to be touched, you scream like a little girl, run away and tell the first adult you see.

We must break through this shroud of hushed secrecy, for those who come after us.

1 comment:

  1. Just because the accusers in these cases are beyond the statues of limitations, doesn't mean he stopped 15 years ago. Hopefully he did, but not bloody likely. Sadly I'm sure more will come forward and he can be prosecuted properly and not just in the court of public opinion.


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