Stephen Collins is coming clean. The 67-year-old actor owned up to his “inexcusable” behavior in a statement to People magazine Wednesday, admitting to inappropriate sexual conduct with three underage girls.
"Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since,” he began the lengthy statement, adding that in the last 20 years, he’s “not had an impulse to act out in any such way.”
News first broke of the “7th Heaven” actor’s sexual abuse in October, when TMZ obtained a detailed recording of Collins confessing to child molestation – incidents that took place over a 20-year period from 1973 to 1994.
“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," Collins said in the statement.
E! Online reported that Grant denied leaking the recording to the media but confirmed that she handed the incriminating tape over to authorities.
"On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32 and 40 years ago," Collins continued. "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."
In his lengthy statement to People, Collins explained an incident where he exposed himself twice to a minor in 1973. "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 of the act that took place when he was 25. "It was a completely impulsive act, and it's haunted me ever since to think of what I put her through." The actor then said he exposed himself to teenage girls in 1982 and 1994.
According to Collins, he’s “agonized” over whether he should make a direct apology to the victims.
"I did have an opportunity to do so with one of the women 15 years later. I apologized and she was extraordinarily gracious," he revealed, adding that he faced a conundrum during therapy, which he has been receiving for 20 years, in regards to apologizing. "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."
Despite working with several minors during his decade on the popular TV series "7th Heaven," Collins, who played Reverend Eric Camden on the program, said he never behaved inappropriately at work. "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 11 years. I never behaved inappropriately on or off that set — or on any set I've ever worked on," he said.
Collins will elaborate on his statement to People magazine when he sits down with Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric for an interview, which will stream on Yahoo! and air Friday, Dec. 19, on "20/20" on ABC. The issue of People magazine featuring Collins' full statement goes on sale Friday.