Stephen Collins, the pastor father on the TV show “7th Heaven,” faces possible child molestation charges after recordings of the actor admitting to three instances of inappropriate behavior with young girls during a therapy session were released on Oct. 6.
The allegations could present legal difficulties for Collins, given the fact that his alleged confessions had been taped. TMZ obtained the recordings, which Mark Kaplan, Collins’ attorney, said his estranged wife, actress Faye Grant, must have released since she secretly recorded him and has been using the tape as leverage for money in their divorce case, USA Today reports.
Collins is heard speaking to Grant and to a therapist about exposing himself to three underage girls over the past decade, one of which is suspected by TMZ to be a relative of his first wife, Marjorie Weinman.
Grant told E! News that she recorded the therapy session as part of a request from law enforcement, but was not involved in the release of the tape to the media.
“I woke up today to learn that an extremely private recording I handed over to the authorities in 2012 per their request in connection with a criminal investigation was recently disseminated to the press,” she said.
The Associated Press reports that New York police have an open investigation into allegations that Collins molested a 14-year-old girl in 1972. Police spokesman Stephen David said the complaint was filed in 2012, and remains open although no charges have been filed, according to USA Today.
But while decades have passed since the molestation, Collins may still face charges depending on the statute of limitations surrounding the incident. Since authorities consider the actual crime date to begin when the case is reported, not when it occurs, Collins could face charges for a 42-year-old crime. For example, TMZ reports that the statute of limitations runs from the date of the reporting in 2012 on the New York case, not the date of the illegal act occurring in 1972.
Statutes of limitation vary by state, and are set time limits on how long after a civil or criminal act is reported that charges may be pressed and that a state can make prosecutions. For example, in New York, the statute of limitation for personal injury is two years, but there is no time limit for a rape or murder case.