Speaking out for the first time about allegations that he sexually abused underage girls, Stephen Collins admitted to and apologized for abusing three different victims between 1973 and 1994 in a statement that will be published in People Magazine this week.
“I deeply regret the mistakes I’ve made and any pain I caused these three women,” Collins wrote. “I admit to, apologize for, and take responsibility for what I did.”
Specifically, Collins said he had exposed himself on two occasions to his first victim, a “pre-teen” girl, in 1973 when he was 25 years old. Months later, Collins said, when he was watching television alone with the girl, he moved her hand and caused her to touch him in appropriately. “It lasted less than a minute, during which there was no gratification,” Collins said.
The actor, who played a lead role of the minister father on the popular television show “7th Heaven” during its 11 seasons, also admitted that he was in fact the voice heard on an audio tape that was released earlier this year in which he described one of those encounters.
The recording, which were first reported by the gossip site TMZ in October, appears to contradict his statement in People Magazine.
Collins said in his statement that on two other instances of abuse, in 1982 and in 1994, when he exposed himself to two other teen girls. He insists that both incidents lasted seconds and involved no physical contact.
“I don’t say this to excuse what I did — it was inexcusable — but to clarify what actually happened,” he added.
But in the recording, Collins describes several incidents with a single victim over the course of several years.
“There were, I think, yes there were like three incidents over about three years,” Collins said. Earlier in the session, according to the recording, Collins told his then-wife Faye Grant that “she was 11 and then like 12 and 13.”
It is unclear which victim Collins is referring to.
Collins accuses his ex-wife Faye Grant of recording the audio tape of their marital therapy session in 2012. It was released in the midst of their acrimonious divorce proceedings. Grant has denied leaking the audio tape to the media.
The actor said that the 1994 incident was a “wake-up” call that prompted him to begin a 20-year period of therapy.
“And since that day in 1994, I have not had an impulse to act out in any such way,” Collins said.
Collins said that he apologized directly to one of the victims, 15 years after the abuse. But he has not approached the other two women, one whom is in her 50s and the other in her 30s, out of concern that “being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds.”
“With all my heart, I want them to know how sorry am and that I haven’t engaged in any such behavior for over twenty years,” Collins said.
Collins claims he waited to acknowledge his abuse until after his divorce trial with Grant, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 12. But when that trial was postponed, he decided to speak up.
“I didn’t feel I could wait any longer to speak up,” Collins said.
After the audio tape emerged, two channels canceled plans to air re-runs of “7th Heaven,” and his talent agency severed ties.
And both the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York Police Department said they were conducting investigations into the allegations after the secret recording emerged.
In addition to authoring the People essay, which will be released in the magazine on Friday, Collins is sitting down with Yahoo’s Katie Couric for an interview that will air Friday on ABC’s “20/20.” That interview will also stream on Yahoo.