Stephen Collins has claimed that he suffered a childhood trauma that had a lasting effect on him.
In a sit-down interview with Katie Couric that was posted on Yahoo and aired Friday on “20/20,” the “7th Heaven” actor said that a woman exposed herself to him several times when he was a boy.
“I did have someone in my life when I was between the ages of 10 and 15, an older woman, who repeatedly exposed herself to me,” the actor said, whose identity he did not reveal.
Collins made the revelation as part of his interview with Couric in which he confessed to and apologized for inappropriate sexual conduct with three girls, ages 10, 13 and 14, more than two decades ago.
The embattled star said that he wasn’t offering the story as a way to “excuse” his actions, but explain how it impacted his perception of appropriate behavior.
“That distorted my perception in such a way that some part of me felt – I never felt like I was molested. That word never crossed my mind as a 10 to 15-year-old boy,” Collins said.
“It was a very intense experience. I think somewhere in my brain I got the equation that, ‘Well, this isn’t so terrible. This person who I trust is doing it,'” he said.
Collins stressed that he was presenting this revelation not as a way of “blaming” the woman, but that he thought the incidents “went into my own distorted thinking as a young man.”
He also apologized to fans of his popular family drama “7th Heaven,” while noting that the incidents of sexual misconduct occured prior to when he was cast on the show.
“I’m very sorry that anything that I did disappoints you that way,” he said when asked what he’d say to the show’s fans.
“But I would hope that you could know and see ‘7th Heaven’ as a time that is completely carved away from all these incidents.”
In clips released from his sit-down with Couric earlier this week, the actor attributed his abusive behavior as a desperate “need for attention.”
When Couric asked him if he was a pedophile, he vehemently disagreed.
“I do not fit either the clinical or dictionary definition of it,” he said.