Actor Stephen Collins, best known as the clean-cut minister with seven children on the WB’s long-running show “7th Heaven,” confessed to exposing himself to three girls and molesting at least one of them in the past. The confession was made during a couples therapy session secretly recorded in 2012 by Faye Grant, now his ex-wife.
Because Collins didn’t know the confession was being taped, could it still be entered as evidence in court? According to one law professor, unless Collins starts talking about it, he should be able to keep the testimony and tape out of the trial.
Collins’ confession was made in 2012 but was only recently obtained and published by TMZ with the caveat that the recording was legal: “We’re told her lawyer advised her it was legal to secretly record the conversation because in California you’re allowed to secretly record conversations to gather evidence the other person committed a violent felony ... and molesting a child under the age of 14 qualifies.”
According to J. Alexander Tanford, professor of law at Indiana University at Bloomington Maurer School of Law, “In couples counseling, both patients hold the privilege and either can assert it. Thus, the wife cannot waive the husband’s privilege, only her own. It would be up to Collins’ lawyer to decide whether to object, but he should be able to keep both the tape and the testimony out of the trial unless Collins also starts talking about it.”
In the recording, Collins continually refers to a “disclosure” in which this information is presumably documented. As International Business Times previously reported, Collins confessed to exposing himself to three girls, and in at least one instance, there was inappropriate touching. TMZ wrote that the New York Police Department has the tape and sent two NYPD officers from the Special Victims Unit to Los Angeles to interview Grant, and sources have told TMZ that there are “at least 3 victims,” two of whom are from New York, according to the New York Daily News.
Regarding therapist/patient confidentiality, Tanford says that the therapist’s obligation is threefold. The therapist shouldn’t talk to police or provide information without a subpoena or court order. The therapist should let the parties know that the therapist was subpoenaed or been ordered to a deposition. Ultimately, says Tanford, if the case ends up in court, the therapist is obligated to follow the lawyer’s and judge’s orders.
In the wake of the sex abuse revelations, Stephen Collins was fired from the sequel to the Seth McFarland comedy "Ted," reports Entertainment Weekly. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, Collins also resigned from the SAG-AFTRA board on Tuesday.