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Actor Stephen Collins admits to sexual abuse of underage girls

The actor, known for his role as a wholesome reverend in "7th Heaven," admitted to engaging in inappropriate sexual contact with three young girls.
Actor Stephen Collins speaks onstage on Aug. 1, 2010 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty)
Actor Stephen Collins speaks onstage on Aug. 1, 2010 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Actor Stephen Collins, who is best known for his role as the wholesome reverend on the former TV show "7th Heaven," has admitted exclusively to People Magazine that he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with three young girls during a 20-year span.

Collins, 67, told the publication in a 1,000-word statement that there were three victims, all minor girls, in five separate incidents from 1973 to 1994.

"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," he reportedly wrote to People. Collins and Grant are in the process of finalizing their divorce.

In the statement, Collins wrote that he twice exposed himself to a pre-teenage girl in 1973, and had another inappropriate encounter with the same individual inside his home, the "Today" show reported on Wednesday.

"When the girl and I were watching TV alone, I moved her hand in such a way that caused her to touch me inappropriately,'' Collins wrote, according to the "Today" show report. "It was a completely impulsive act, and it's haunted me ever since to think of what I put her through." 

Collins also admitted to exposing himself to two teenage girls in 1982 and 1994.

He said he directly apologized to one of the women, 15 years after the incident occurred.

Collins came under fire in October after celebrity gossip website TMZ released the audio recording that his wife allegedly secretly taped. It reveals a man identified as Collins confessing during a therapy session to molesting three young girls. The New York Police Department also received the recording. The Los Angeles Police Department previously said officers couldn't verify the tape, given to them in 2012. 

"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," Collins added.

On Oct. 9, a victim, who was 13 years old at the time of the incident, reported a child-molestation allegation connected to Collins. Days later, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department began investigating the accusation.

Collins added that nothing inappropriate occurred on the set of "7th Heaven." The TV series premiered in August 1996 and was broadcast originally until May 2007. He was cut from several upcoming planned TV and movie appearances following the recent allegations.

Collins, who remained out of the public eye since the recording surfaced, has not been charged with a crime. The victims have not identified themselves publicly.

His full statement will be available in the most recent edition of People, out Friday.

The news comes amid spiraling allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women in the past. The comedian has never been charged criminally.