Teri Hatcher Reveals Childhood Abuse

Teri Hatcher, one of the stars of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," says in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair that her uncle sexually molested her 35 years ago.

The author of the article, Leslie Bennetts, joined The Early Show Wednesday morning to talk more about her conversations with Hatcher. "It's rather an explosive chapter in her personal history," Bennetts told co-anchor Rene Syler. "I think Teri has always been tormented about what happened with her uncle."

The 41-year-old actress says she learned in 2002 that a 14-year-old victim of her uncle had committed suicide. Concerned that he would escape charges of molestation, Hatcher approached the Santa Clara County prosecutors in California.

"This is something I've tried to hide my whole life," Hatcher tells the magazine, which hits newsstands Friday with the actress on the cover.

"I was just blown away by this young girl's pain," she says. "I thought, boy, that's really close to being me. Any day of the week I could feel that sort of pain. I haven't tried to kill myself, but I've certainly thought about it."

Bennetts says, in spite of Hatcher's misgivings about drawing attention to her painful past, "She has always been haunted by the thought that she could maybe help other girls if she came forward publicly."

After the actress came forward, her uncle, Richard Hayes Stone, then
64-years-old, pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation in the case of the 14-year-old victim and received 14 years in prison.

Chuck Gillingham, the Santa Clara County deputy district attorney in California, said, "Without Teri, this case would have been dismissed."

Bennetts thinks that Hatcher's experience as a mother also contributed to her decision to come forward. "Having a daughter who's the same age as she was during the years this was happening, she felt the truth will set you free and maintaining secrecy about these things is part of the problem," she told Syler.

Hatcher said she hesitated because she thought tabloids would suggest she was trying to resuscitate her then-languishing career: "Here's what I anticipated. He did this, he gets off, and Teri ends up on the cover of a tabloid."

Hatcher said she was 5-years-old living in Sunnyvale, Calif., with her family when Stone would manipulate situations to get him and Hatcher alone in his car so he could take advantage of her.

"These are haunting things that I've remembered all my life," she says.

Vanity Fair said it contacted Stone's attorney, Eric Geffon, who declined to comment, and that it could not reach Stone in prison before going to press. An after-hours phone call to Geffon on Tuesday by The Associated Press was not returned.

As many victims of sexual abuse do, Hatcher says she had complicated feelings about the abuse. She didn't see her uncle after she was 8- or 9-years-old, and never told her parents, though she thinks they suspected.

"I think their way of dealing with things is denial and guilt," she says. "Nobody wanted to talk about it. But all I did was blame myself."

Hatcher's career was revived with the hit "Desperate Housewives," for which she's twice been nominated for a Golden Globe, winning last year.

"I have so much pain," she says. "I'm a woman who carries around all these layers of fear and vulnerability. I'm trying to be my powerful me."
  • Polly Leider

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