Stephen Collins’ estranged wife says there’s no extortion attempt
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — The estranged wife of actor Stephen Collins said Wednesday she isn’t trying to extort any money from her husband as they go through a contentious divorce and the former “7th Heaven” star is the subject of child molestation allegations.
The allegations surfaced Tuesday after celebrity news site TMZ posted an audio recording that purports to have been made during a November 2012 therapy session involving Collins and his wife, Faye Grant.
The accusations against the actor best known for playing a pastor on “7th Heaven,” which ran for 11 years, are explosive.
In the recording, the website says, Collins made incriminating statements. They are similar to those Grant accuses him of in divorce filings, namely that he admitted to her that he molested three underage girls.
Neither Collins’ attorney nor his agent have returned any of CNN’s numerous calls.
But in a court filing in the couple’s divorce, Grant claimed Collins, now 67, had “been engaging in a long-term pattern of sexually molesting children.”
Collins’ lawyer fired back, saying in his client’s legal response that her claims were “really an attempt to extort concessions in settlement.”
On Wednesday, Grant released a statement denying she wants more than half of the marital assets.
“This is a deeply sad situation for everyone involved. With regard to the divorce proceedings, I am seeking no more than that to which I am legally entitled under the laws of the State of California,” she said.
TMZ also reported Wednesday that “Collins’ people” said Grant was using the recording from the therapy session as a means to getting a larger settlement.
Her divorce lawyer, Larry Ginsberg, said the accusation is untrue.
“Faye never asked for more than the ‘guideline’ amount of spousal support based on Mr. Collins’ income. From the very beginning of the dissolution of marriage matter, Faye has worked diligently to get this matter settled and to put it behind her while coping with the distress and trauma suffered as a result of the revelations about Mr. Collins’ life.”
Grant said in the court documents that she was unaware of Collins’ behavior until he told her in January 2012. They separated the next month, after almost 27 years of marriage.
A can of worms
Tuesday’s revelation opened up a whole can of worms for the actor.
The gist of it is this: A relative of Collins’ first wife went to police in November 2012 and told them she was sexually assaulted by Collins when she was 14 years old while inside his New York apartment, a senior law enforcement official told CNN on Tuesday evening.
Due to the statute of limitations, he can’t face charges in the case. There are specific laws in child sexual abuse cases in New York that do allow for an extension of the statute of limitations in certain cases, but this particular allegation against Collins can’t be prosecuted, the official added.
Now, the investigation continues to see if there might be any other women with similar allegations, the source said. In New York, a person has five years from their 18th birthday to make an accusation of sexual abuse to authorities.
Los Angeles police said they received information two years ago regarding allegations of criminal behavior.
The case is no longer active, LAPD spokesman Andrew Neiman said.
“No crime report was ever made and there was no verified victim,” he said.
Bizarre end to Tuesday
Collins is alive and well, the Los Angeles police said late Tuesday night after rumors circulated on social media that he had shot himself.
But he wasn’t even at home when a reporter camped outside heard a loud noise and called police, believing it was a gunshot, said Los Angeles Police spokeswoman Jane Kim.
Police determined no shots had been fired.
But the news already had ricocheted around the world, helped in part by numerous tweets, including one by actress Donna D’Errico to her 53,000 followers.
“That guy from 7th Heaven lives right around the corner from me & just shot himself a few minutes ago,” she wrote.
That tweet has since been deleted.
“I just tweeted out what I was being told by my neighbor(s) who were on scene. I apologize for tweeting what I’d heard before confirming it,” she posted instead.
Following the revelation of the allegations, Collins was fired from his job on the movie “Ted 2.”
A future episode of the ABC show “Scandal” won’t include any footage with Collins, representatives for the show said Wednesday. Collins appeared as anchorman Reed Wallace in a 2012 episode of the hit drama and was set to appear in another one this season.
Collins also resigned Tuesday from his spot on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild, a source at the organization with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
And UPtv, a family-friendly network, said it was pulling reruns of “7th Heaven” from its lineup because it was “deeply concerned for the families that are potentially affected by these disturbing allegations.”
CNN’s Jane Caffrey reported from Los Angeles, Shimon Prokupecz from New York, and Steve Almasy wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Selin Darkalstanian, Topher Gauk-Roger, Ray Sanchez, Saeed Ahmed, Megan Thomas, Sara Sidner, Lindy Hall and Rachel Wells contributed to this report.