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Former 7th Heaven star Stephen Collins admits 'sexually inappropriate' conduct with three girls

Former 7th Heaven star Stephen Collins has admitted sexually inappropriate conduct with three girls.

The 7th Heaven actor was thrust into the limelight two months ago when a tape which allegedly featured him admitting molesting three females between the ages of ten and 13 featured on TMZ. The recording was apparently secretly made during therapy sessions between Stephen and Faye Grant, who filed for divorce from him in 2012.

Having stayed quiet amid the speculation, Stephen has now released a statement to People magazine.

"Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since," he said. "I've decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organisations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January, 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist's or my knowledge or consent.

"On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth."

Stephen admits there were three victims and insists he has "not had an impulse" to repeat his actions over the last two decades.

He had not apologised to the people involved, but tries to explain why in his statement. The 67-year-old will discuss things in more detail with news anchor Katie Couric, in a piece which will be streamed on Yahoo! and feature on US TV show 20/20 on Friday.

"I did have an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later. I apologised and she was extraordinarily gracious," he explained. "But after I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s."

In the 1,000-word statement, Stephen apologises for his actions and insists he is taking responsibility for what happened.

He describes his actions in detail, admitting he exposed himself to a young girl when he was 25. He also made her touch him inappropriately.

"It was a completely impulsive act, and it's haunted me ever since to think of what I put her through," he said in an excerpt published on today.com.

Stephen and Faye are still embroiled in an acrimonious divorce battle following their 27-year union. She had insisted she did not leak the tape to press.

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At the moment no criminal charges have been brought against the actor and the victims haven't come forward.