THE EDITOR of the Inquirer, Stan Wischnowski, said last night that it was "incredibly irresponsible" for top-rated Philadelphia talk-radio hosts to suggest for several hours yesterday that the paper was slow in publishing molestation allegations against Bill Conlin.

Even though the Inquirer reported Tuesday that the paper received its first tip about the former Daily News sports columnist just before Thanksgiving, WPHT's Chris Stigall and, for a time, Dom Giordano, suggested that the paper knew about the Conlin allegations for a full year. The erroneous information was even discussed on air with Gov. Corbett, who has received criticism for the pace of the Jerry Sandusky probe.

"A four-to-five week turnaround on something like this is remarkable," said Wischnowski, referring to the time it took for the paper to nail down the accounts of four alleged victims and three family members willing to discuss the charges.

Giordano acknowledged that the four-to-five-week timeline laid out in later interviews with reporter Nancy Phillips and Philadelphia Media Network executive Mark Block was "clear and convincing."

But Stigall said in an email last night that the Inquirer should have published something immediately when the tip came in - a move that would not conform to standard journalistic practices or ethics. Insisted Stigall: "If you know that someone of Conlin's profile and stature has been accused multiple times of something this heinous, it's a story the NEXT DAY."

The reporter who broke the Jerry Sandusky story, Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, worked on the reporting for about 23 months before she had enough information to publish an article.

- Will Bunch

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