As the allegations continue to stretch into the double-digits against Bill Cosby, 7th Heaven’s Stephen Collins has attained the unlikely classification of 2014’s second-most famous TV dad to have been accused of sexual assault. But perhaps as a means of reclaiming that terrible spotlight—or perhaps because it’s currently trained elsewhere—Collins has stepped forward amid both the Cosby furor and the last-ditch holiday news dump to remind everyone that he was accused of sexually abusing three underage girls between the years 1973 and 1994. Only in his case, he openly admits it.
In a lengthy statement to People, Collins confesses, “Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since.” Of course, some may quibble with Collins’ assertion that he’s been “working to atone for it” during that time, a period in which he mostly atoned by avoiding any punishment, keeping it a secret while starring in a family television show, and then doing “something terribly wrong” at least twice more.
Others could likely quibble with the wording of the rest of his statement as well, in which Collins continues to distance himself from his actions by referencing just how long it’s been since he molested anyone (“events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago”). He also chastises the public’s “assumptions and innuendos” that have been made about his self-confessed molestation of three girls between the ages of 11 and 14, which says “go far beyond what actually occurred.”
And of course, Collins also makes sure to name the source of these “innuendos”: the leaked recording made by his then-wife, Faye Grant, during a therapy session, where Collins himself is heard openly discussing those assaults. Collins reminds us that this was recorded “without the therapist’s or my knowledge or consent,” as a subtle means of evoking sympathy. After all, it’s always shameful when something is done to someone without their consent.
Still, at least Collins isn’t trying to escape from his misdeeds—at least, not any more, now that everyone knows about them. In fact, he says he’s even personally reached out to at least one of his victims to apologize, whom he claims was “extraordinarily gracious” about it. But Collins says he’s since learned that “my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds,” so he’s not planning on talking to the others for fear of forcing them relive their traumatic experience.
Instead, he’s going to talk about them in a People magazine cover story that’s due on newsstands this Friday, as well as a 20/20 interview with Katie Couric airing that night. It’s possible Collins will also use these spotlights to address those other claims that he is a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies.