NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Actor Stephen Collins, famous for playing a devoted family man on the hit TV show "7th Heaven," is the target of a sex crimes investigation.
The New York Police Department said it is conducting an active criminal investigation after audio surfaced online in which Collins purportedly confessed to exposing himself to three underage girls, molesting one. The audio first surfaced on the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com.
"There is a formal complaint on file and the incident is being investigated by the Manhattan Special Victims Squad," the NYPD said in a statement.
Collins, 67, is best known for playing a minister and dad on "7th Heaven," which ran for 11 seasons. He has appeared in numerous television shows and movies, including "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
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TMZ claims the recordings were secretly made in 2012 by Collins' now ex-wife, Faye Grant, during therapy sessions. Collins and Grant were in the midst of a divorce battle when the recording was made, TMZ reported.
"The exposure happened a couple of times" over several years, Collins purportedly says in the audio clip. "She was 11 and then, like, 12 and 13.
"There was one moment of touching where her hand, I put her hand on my penis," Collins purportedly goes on to say. "It lasted a few seconds, and that was the last time."
Collins purportedly says he exposed himself to a total of three underage girls, and apologized to one of the girls some years later.
Sources tell CBS 2 that a complaint was filed in 2012 over an incident that allegedly took place in 1972, while Collins lived in New York. The person who filed the complaint was 14 years old, and Collins was in his early 20s at the time of the alleged incident, sources said.
No charges have been filed against the actor.
There has been no comment from Collins' spokesman.
The Los Angeles Police Department is in possession of an audio tape in which Collins made "a statement," but it's not known what he said or what it means for the investigation, sources told CBS 2.
Collins' fans told CBS 2's Scott Rapoport the allegations are stunning.
"I'm disappointed," said Cherie Lambiase, of Fort Lee, New Jersey. "Yeah, very disappointed."
"That's not exactly in line with the character he used to play on TV," said Tanya Bailey, of Hoboken, New Jersey.
"He had that image," added Dennis Cohen, of Airmont, New York. "But that doesn't mean anything about what the real person's like."
As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, Collins lived in New York for many years. He grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson in southern Westchester County.
He graduated Hastings High in 1965. Longtime residents remember his from a Beatle-esque local band called 'The Houseman.'
"Every person deserves a day in court, but if it is true I believe this man should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Atillio D'Oro said.
The allegations date back decades, so it remains unclear how the statute of limitations might affect any possible charges against Collins.
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