By STEVEN LEMONGELLO, Staff Writer
An Atlantic City prosecutor who claims she was molested by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin in Margate in the 1970s has joined three other accusers to call for removing all statutes of limitations for sexual abuse.
In an emotional letter published Thursday by the New York Daily News, Kelley Blanchet, Conlin’s niece, along with fellow accusers Karen Healey-Lange, Christine Giusti and Dale Elsa Norley, call Conlin, who died in January, “a serial pedophile predator who abused both boys and girls over the course of at least three decades.”
Giusti and Norley, two of seven people who have claimed abuse by Conlin in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, had remained anonymous before now.
“He sought out his innocent, trust-filled victims on and around the beaches of Margate City, N.J., where his nickname was ‘Slick Willie,’ and in his close-knit neighborhood of Whitman Square, N.J.,” the letter states. “His targets were not strangers. They were family members, his friends’ children and his children’s friends.”
The letter states that Conlin used his influence as a popular columnist “to prevent his victims (and his victims’ families) from reporting his crimes. Obviously, most predators don’t wield this type of influence — but many find other ways to quietly intimidate those who might report crimes against children in real time.”
The letter also states that “the law perversely gives pedophiles a pass to commit their heinous crimes” because of statutes of limitations.
“We strongly urge every state legislature to remove the statutes of limitations for survivor(s) of sexual abuse,” the letter states. “Pedophiles like Conlin must not be permitted to use arbitrary time limitations to shield themselves from being held accountable for their crimes. And we sincerely hope that by speaking out, we will embolden other survivors to find the courage to break their silence. It’s never too late to do the right thing.”
New Jersey lifted its statute of limitations for criminally prosecuting child sex abuse in 1996, but it is not retroactive. The statute of limitations for civil sex abuse lawsuits is two years after an abuse victim turns 18 or discovers the abuse.
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