A longtime sports columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News has quit the newspaper as he faces allegations he molested three girls and a boy during the 1970s.
Bill Conlin, an award-winning columnist, reporter and television commentator, resigned Tuesday from the newspaper where he had worked for more than four decades, the Philadelphia Inquirer said in a report on the allegations that it published online Tuesday afternoon.
Three women and a man have come forward accusing 77-year-old Conlin of groping and fondling them decades ago when they were ages 7 to 12, the Inquirer reported.
"This is a tragedy," Kelley Blanchet, a niece of Conlin's, told the Inquirer in explaining how Conlin allegedly molested her as a girl. "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."
Mark Block, vice president of external relations for Philadelphia Media Network, said the Philadelphia Daily News had only recently become aware of the allegations against Conlin and were not taking the claims lightly.
"This story is not over," Block told FoxNews.com. "That's the unfortunate outcome of any child sex abuse case, you just don't know."
Conlin's attorney, George Bochetto, said his client "is obviously floored by these accusations, which supposedly happened 40 years ago. He has engaged me to do everything possible to bring the facts forward to vindicate his name."
Conlin, who was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., attended Temple University in Philadelphia prior to joining the Evening Bulletin and later the Daily News in 1965.
Conlin has also been a longtime contributor to several radio programs and has appeared on more than 300 episodes of ESPN's "The Sports Reporters." Last December, he was elected the 2011 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the victims decided to come forward after the child sex abuse scandal involving former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky brought back painful memories.
In one of his recent columns, Conlin questioned those who claimed they would have intervened had they witnessed Sandusky committing one of his alleged acts of abuse.
"Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own ass on the line before or after the fact," Conlin wrote. "But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions."
Prosecutors in New Jersey, where the alleged abuses occurred, told The Inquirer no criminal charges would be filed against Conlin because the statute of limitations had passed. Blanchet said she and the other victims hoped their case would shed light on the shortcomings of the statute of limitations involving sex crimes.
Newscore and Fox News' Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this report.