Stephen Collins, who played the minister/father of the family on the WB's "7th Heaven," had an interesting response to allegations that he had sexual contact with underage girls.
In an interview that airs tonight on ABC's "20/20," Collins spoke with Katie Couric about multiple incidents in which he exposed himself to a young woman in 1973. This revelation joins an audio recording of Collins leaked by TMZ two months ago, describing an incident in which Collins admits to molesting three girls.
Based on these statements, will Collins find himself in court or behind bars?
Could Criminal Charges Be Filed?
In the clip from the "20/20" interview above, it isn't clear that the "young woman" Collins is referring to is underage, so it's not exactly a confession to child molestation or statutory rape. However, that doesn't cover the exclusive confession that Collins gave to People, where he "admits he had inappropriate sexual conduct with underage girls." According to People, Collins explained there were three underage victims from 1973 to 1994, but he has not "had an impulse to act out in any such way" in 20 years.
According to LAist, no criminal charges have yet been filed against Collins, although both Los Angeles and New York police had investigated the allegations. Because all of these cases are at least two decades old, many believe any criminal charges against Collins would be barred by the statutes of limitations in both New York and California.
Civil Lawsuit Might Be Possible
While Collins might not be facing criminal charges for confessing to these acts decades later, he could potentially have to pay for them in civil court. As another TV dad, Bill Cosby, has demonstrated, it's possible for grown women to sue you for alleged molestation they suffered at your hands as minors.
The question is whether the laws in California and New York are flexible enough to allow the statute of limitations to be tolled for Collins' victims. In child sex abuse civil suits, some states will allow the suit to be filed within a certain time of an adult discovering the damage from childhood sexual abuse.
As of Friday, no victims have filed suit against Collins, but we're pretty certain the former TV father is so far from "7th Heaven."