The head of the company that owns the Philadelphia Daily News and The Inquirer said today he was "sickened" by the allegations that former Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin sexually molested children in the 1970s.
"We have always taken tremendous pride in the ethical and moral standards we operate from at [Philadelphia Media Network]," Gregory J. Osberg said in an e-mail sent to employees this afternoon.
"I am sickened by these allegations. It is important to me that you know that we have accepted his retirement today," said Osberg, publisher of The Inquirer and chief executive officer of Philadelphia Media Network.
At a news conference, Osberg was joined by Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski and Daily News editor Larry Platt to address the story and Conlin's sudden retirement today.
"He offered his retirement. I immediately accepted it," said Platt, who spoke with Conlin by telephone. Platt called it a "painful conversation."
Wischnowski said that the story, reported by staff writer Nancy Phillips, had been near publication, but that it was decided to publish the story on Philly.com, the website for both newspapers, because word of the story and Conlin's retirement was published by other outlets online.
He said the story was approached with a "sense of urgency but also a sense of responsibility."
Phillips, an investigative reporter, "treated this like she would every other story," Wischnowski said.
He noted that four alleged victims and three family members had agreed to speak out publicly and that there was videotaped testimony recorded by the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.
He said The Inquirer tried several times to interview Conlin, "and he chose to go through his lawyer."
Attorney George Bochetto told The Inquirer that Conlin "is obviously floored by these accusations" and that he hired Bochetto "to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name."
Conlin, 77, was the recipient of the 2011 J.G. Taylor Spink Award at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.