LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An actor best known for his wholesome role as a pastor on TV's "7th Heaven" has reportedly confessed to the molestation of three young girls.
An audio recording obtained by TMZ.com allegedly captures Stephen Collins making the confession in a therapy session with his estranged wife and actress Faye Grant, and said he targeted two girls in New York and another in Los Angeles.
The first victim is reportedly a relative of Collins' first wife, according to TMZ. The victim claimed the abuse took place in 1972, when Collins was living in New York. She said he was in his 20s and she was 14 at the time.
Collins, 67, allegedly admitted to the therapist that he exposed himself to the first victim when she was 11, 12, and 13 years old, TMZ reported.
The alleged second victim was the niece of a "woman who lived across the way" from the Collins' home in Los Angeles, according to the audio recording. Collins and Grant once shared a home in Brentwood but neighbors told CBS2/KCAL9's Kristine Lazar they haven't seen them in more than a year.
"There was one moment of touching where her hand, I put her hand on my penis," Collins is purportedly heard saying. "It lasted a few seconds, and that was the last time."
The New York Police Department said an active criminal investigation was launched after audio surfaced online, CBS New York reports.
In 2012, the LAPD looked into allegations of abuse involving the actor but shelved the case when they couldn't locate a victim, Officer Nuria Vanega said. Amidst the new allegations, investigators are taking a second look. They confirmed they have the secretly-taped recordings and are reviewing them.
As of now, the LAPD doesn't have an open case because they have no known victim.
CBS2/KCAL9 legal analyst Steven Meister said that even though the recordings allegedly were made without Collins' knowledge they still could be used against him in court.
"Evidence only gets excluded if the police are the ones to break the law in gathering the evidence. Here it was a private citizen who did it, apparently not at the behest of the police. So even though she broke the law in recording him the evidence could still come in," according to Meister.
In court documents, Grant said she had been married to Collins for 27 years before learning about his "secret life":
"In the presence of his therapist, Stephen admitted that he has engaged in a long term pattern of sexually abusing minor children, including sexually molesting three young girls over a decade ago. Stephen's therapist subsequently disclosed to me that Stephen has narcissistic personality disorder with sociopathic tendencies. I believe that Stephen used his celebrity status to engender the trust of the families of the children he molested. I further believe that there have been other victims, but he has thus far only confessed to those three girls."
Grant said immediately after Collins allegedly confessed she reported it to police in New York and L.A.
There has been no comment from the actor's spokesman.
Various media outlets reported that Collins was fired from the cast of the film "Ted 2" after the audiotape was made public.
He also allegedly resigned from the board of the SAG-AFTRA actors' union. Officials with the union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Collins is perhaps best known for playing a minister and dad on the television show "7th Heaven," which ran for 11 seasons and once said "'7th Heaven' really seemed to fulfill that need of the family that's always there for you."
National network UP TV has pulled all of the show's episodes from its line-up, saying it wants to keep with its family-friendly image.
He has appeared in numerous television shows and movies, including "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
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