Another sports icon is facing child molestation allegations this week. Ironically, one of the reporters who wrote about the child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky now finds himself accused. Hall of Fame sportswriter Bill Conlin retired from his job at the Philadelphia Daily News after three women and one man accused Conlin of molesting them when they were children.
All of the alleged acts occurred in the 1970’s. The now adults claim Conlin fondled them and touched their genitals when they were between the ages of 7 and 12 years old. One of the alleged victims is Conlin’s niece, who is now a prosecutor in Atlantic City, NJ. All of the alleged victims are now in their 40’s.
Despite the allegations of against him, Conlin is not currently facing any criminal charges because the statute of limitations has run on all of the alleged criminal acts. A statute of limitations means that a person cannot be charged criminally for conduct that was done in the past. Each type of crime has a statute of limitations defined by the law and the statutes of limitations also vary by state.
In Florida, a person who is alleged to commit the acts Conlin is being accused of would potentially face a charge of lewd or lascivious molestation. Lewd or lascivious molestation is defined as unlawfully and intentionally touching a child in a lewd and lascivious manner on the breast, buttocks, genitals, etc. Lewd or lascivious is defined under Florida law as “a wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual intent on the part of the person doing an act.”
But Florida goes a step further in classifying this offense based upon the age of the victim. If the victim is between the ages of 12 and 16, the offense is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years. If the victim is under the age of 12, then the offense is a life felony. Not only does this classification increase the possible punishment, it also affects the statute of limitations. In Florida, a second degree felony has a three year statute of limitations. Typically, a statute of limitations begins to run as soon as the crime occurs. But, for sexually based offenses, the statute of limitations begins to run when the alleged victim turns 16 or when the incident is reported, whichever is sooner. For life felonies, on the other hand, there is absolutely no statute of limitations in Florida.
If Conlin had committed any incident of molestation of a child under 12 in the state of Florida, even though it was forty years ago, he could still be charged and could face life in prison. However, Conlin allegedly committed the crimes in New Jersey and the statute of limitations has run under New Jersey law. As a result, he is immune from criminal prosecution for the offenses.