Did Stephen Collins take his real-life issues to the screen? That’s the latest question about the former “7th Heaven” star. Before the child molestation allegations made against the 67-year-old actor in early October, Collins starred as a “pedophile priest” in a 2014 short film.
The short film in question, “Penance,” is about a man named Thomas Walker (David Lyons), who is plagued by “personal demons and inner turmoil.” Walker seeks out help from a priest (Collins) to help “clear his conscience and discover exactly what it means to find forgiveness … or to give it.”
“Penance” is currently on the festival circuit – screening at more than 20 film festivals, from the LA Indie Film Festival to the Vancouver International Film Festival. Directed by Jeff Wolfe, the short has won several awards while making its rounds. But with the praise also now comes the criticism for Collins’ role.
Following the child molestation allegations made by Collins’ estranged wife, Faye Grant, Wolfe released a statement about the actor’s involvement in the project.
“Although my short film, ‘Penance,’ has recently played at a number of film festivals, it was actually made in 2013,” Wolfe said in a statement to People. “When I cast Stephen Collins, I had no idea there might be a connection between his real life and the part I asked him to play. I found the recent allegations particularly shocking, as my film is meant to speak to victims of abuse and the idea that the effects of abuse never really go away.”
Collins reportedly admitted during a 2012 therapy session with Grant to sexually molesting girls. In the session, which was allegedly recorded, Collins is said to have confessed to molesting three victims – one an 11-year-old relative of his first wife, Marjorie Weinman.
Stephen Collins is best known for playing father and pastor Rev. Eric Camden on “7th Heaven.” Since the show ended in 2007, he has had roles on “Private Practice,” “No Ordinary Family,” “Devious Maids” and “Revolution.”