Trial in actor Stephen Collins' ugly divorce case postponed

Divorce trial postponed for '7th Heaven' actor Stephen Collins, who is the subject of sex abuse investigations

Actor Stephen Collins and his wife of 27 years, Faye Grant, were scheduled to face off Wednesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for a divorce trial that was likely to be laced with ugly details.

But in the hours leading up to the trial, attorney Larry Ginsberg was granted a request to be removed as Grant's lawyer and the case was postponed until January. 

In court documents, Ginsberg cited a "breach" in his billing agreement with Grant, as well as "an irremediable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship."

Ginsberg also said Grant needed time to respond to a claim filed by Collins last week seeking nearly $1 million in future lost earnings, resulting from the public release of an audio recording last month in which a man whom police believe to be Collins confessed to sexually abusing three underage girls. Collins contends that Grant leaked the recording.

"Faye has known for over two and one-half years that in the event that the recording should find its way into the public arena, that would constitute a further breach of her fiduciary duty, and Stephen would seek to hold her accountable for the damages sustained," Collins' attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said in court papers.

Known for years as the pastor father on the TV drama "7th Heaven," the 67-year-old actor is now the focus of investigations in New York and Los Angeles.

Grant, who is seeking $13,000 in monthly alimony, said in divorce documents that her husband revealed his "secret life" in front of a therapist more than two years ago. She said the therapist later told her Collins had "narcissistic personality disorder with sociopathic tendencies."

"I believe that Stephen used his celebrity status to engender the trust of the families of the children he molested," she said in court papers.

Grant, 57, said she urged Collins to seek treatment but he refused.

"Obviously I am sickened by Stephen’s actions. I have spent the past 20 months coping with the trauma of learning about Stephen’s illness and worrying about my moral and legal responsibility."

Concerned about possible lawsuits against her husband, Grant has requested that a judge rule that only Collins would be held accountable. Kaplan countered in court documents that the request was an attempt to "extort concessions in settlement" and that Grant "gleefully watches [Collins] defend himself from her strategic planning."

In 2012, Kaplan sent a proposed settlement agreement to Grant that referred to a threat he said she made to his client: "The admonition was that, in effect, Stephen's failure to accept the entirety of your settlement demand within the time limit imposed, would result in your providing to the media various confidential communications which were made, including, during and incident to conjoint therapy sessions."

That same year, a woman told police that Collins molested her in New York four decades ago and she thought he may have molested one of his relatives in California, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Investigators reached out to the relative, but she did not respond. The department recently said it was taking another look at the investigation. The New York Police Department said it was investigating a complaint in which Collins allegedly forced a 14-year-old girl to commit a lewd act inside his Manhattan apartment in 1972.

After the allegations became public, reruns of Collins’ hit show were pulled from the air, and he was dropped from the upcoming film "Ted 2." The independent short film "Penance," in which Collins portrays a pedophile priest, was also pulled from film festivals last month.

The trial is expected to decide the fate of the couple’s two Brentwood property lots, estimated to be valued at nearly $3 million each, as well as savings, investment and retirement accounts that total about $8.5 million, according to documents filed by Collins.

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