Stephen Collins Confesses to Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls, Apologizes

Stephen Collins won't be prosecuted for his child molestation crimes
Stephen Collins has issued an exclusive statement to People magazine regarding the allegations that he sexually abused underaged girls between 1972 and 1994. In the statement, he confesses that he molested three young girls, cites his behavior as “inexcusable”, and says “I deeply regret the mistakes I’ve made and any pain I have caused these three women.”

The former 7th Heaven actor had been silent since the audio tape of him revealing his inappropriate conduct to his wife surfaced in October by TMZ.

In the lengthy 1,000 word statement, 67-year-old Collins goes into detail about the abuses (in which he exposed himself twice to a pre-teen girl in 1973, when he was 25 years old, and then had another inappropriate encounter with the same girl in his home), and writes why he never directly apologized to the women.

Part of his statement reads:

Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. 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.

On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. 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.

On apologizing to the women, Collins writes:

I did have an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later. I apologized and she was extraordinarily gracious. 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.

Collins, who is best known for playing a pastor and family man on 7th Heaven, also writes:

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 eleven years. I never behaved inappropriately on or off that set – or on any set I’ve ever worked on.

The actor will be sitting down with Katie Couric for an interview, streaming on Yahoo! and airing Friday on 20/20 on ABC.

Collins and Faye Grant are still in the middle of an embittered divorce.

To read Collins’s full statement, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.