Actor Stephen Collins is mostly known for his long-running role as a righteous dad and pastor on TV show 7th Heaven, and so it was a shock to many of his fans when reports of sexual misconduct with young girls cropped up about him.
Stephen Collins has now confessed to the sexual abuse in an essay for People magazine, saying he inappropriately touched one girl and exposed himself to two others between 1973 and 1994, and that his actions were 'inexcusable' and have 'haunted' him ever since. He writes;
'Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I've decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January, 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist's or my knowledge or consent.'
'On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth.'
He says the only time he touched a girl inappropriately was in 1973, when he was 25 and a pre-teen girl came to stay with him and his first wife. Collins says he exposed himself to the girl twice before, but took things to another level on the visit.
'When the girl and I were watching TV alone, I moved her hand in such a way that caused her to touch me inappropriately. It lasted less than a minute, during which there was no gratification,' Collins said. 'I then left the room. I had no further physical contact with her. It was a completely impulsive act and it's haunted me ever since to think of what I put her through.'
Over the next two decades, according to Mailonline, Collins says he continued to expose himself to two more teenage girls, once in 1982 and again in 1994.
'The first instance lasted second and the second about a minute. I had no physical contact of any kind with either girl. I don't say this to excuse what I did - it was inexcusable - but to clarify what actually happened.'
Collins says the exposure in 1994 was his 'rock bottom' and what caused him to finally seek help for his deviant behavior. For the past twenty years, Collins says he's undergoing therapy and religious counseling, while praying and meditating every day.
These treatments, Collins claims, have worked and kept him from harming other young girls. He says he has only apologized directly to one of his victims, but has not reached out to the others for fear that he will be 'opening old wounds'.
'I did have an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later. I apologized and she was extraordinarily graciou. But after I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s.'
The actor also describes how the recorded confession came to be. He says he and his wife Grant were undergoing marriage therapy sessions in hopes of healing their relationship. The couple of nearly thirty years, filed for divorce in 2012 but have been engaged in a heated legal battle over how to split their assets.
According to Mailonline, Collins says the release of the tapes in October led to confusion over when he exposed himself to the young girls, and if it was possible one of his young co-stars on 7th Heaven was a victim.
'I appeared for eleven seasons on a television series with a cast that included minor females in our TV family, and countless other young actresses throughout the show's eleven years. I never behaved inappropriately on or off that set - or on any set I've ever worked on.'
Collins says he planned to release a statement after his divorce was finalized, but decided to come forward earlier when the trial was postponed. He says he owed family, friends and the public an explanation.
'I want to reassure them about who I am, and I want them to understand that I take these issues very seriously.'