Exclusive: Stephen Collins opens up about sexual abuse of underage girls

Exclusive: Stephen Collins opens up about sexual abuse of underage girls

For the first time since an explosive sexual-misconduct scandal broke in October, actor Stephen Collins is talking directly about the incidents, and the events that led to the story being leaked to the press.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, Collins insists he has had only one inappropriate incident involving physical contact with a minor and that he is not a pedophile.

“A pedophile is someone who is mainly or wholly attracted to children. I'm not. I had a distortion in my thinking where I acted out in those ways. But I'm absolutely not attracted, physically or sexually attracted to children. I'm just not.”

He also described an encounter with one girl in 1973, saying he knew he had done something “unthinkably wrong” that he couldn't take back.

“I took her hand and moved it in such a way that she was touching me inappropriately,” Collins told Couric.

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The “7th Heaven” star also confessed to exposing himself to a teenage girl in 1982 and another in 1994.

In October, TMZ published a 2012 audio recording of Collins admitting the encounters during a marriage-counseling session with his wife, Faye Grant. Collins says Grant recorded the session without his or the therapist’s consent.

“I kind of went into shock. And she said here’s our settlement. You’re going to sign it now, or this recording is going to find its way into the media.” Grant has denied leaking the recording and issued a statement to Yahoo News saying, “Stephen's statements about me are false and appear to be an attempt by him to delect from his conduct. I sincerely hope that Stephen gets the help he needs.” The couple's divorce proceedings have been moved to next year.

Collins also revealed to Couric something about his own childhood that he said may have contributed to his behavior. “I did have someone in my life when I was between the age of about 10 and 15, an older woman, who repeatedly exposed herself to me.” He stopped short of blaming the woman for his actions.

“I did these things because, for whatever reasons — and I tried very hard in the last 20 years to understand. I did them. I'm not saying, you know, this woman did this, and therefore I did it.”

Collins said he’s been in treatment for 20 years and has felt remorse for his victims. He personally apologized to one of them but has been advised against reaching out to the others. “You don’t know what kind of old wounds you might open up,” he said.

The embattled actor has lost his upcoming role in “Ted 2” and a recurring part on ABC’s “Scandal.” He has also resigned from the national board of SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents people who work in movies, television and radio.

Watch more of Katie Couric's interview with Stephen Collins on “20/20,” Friday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.