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LAPD's Stephen Collins investigation stemmed from claim relative was abused

LAPD's Stephen Collins investigation stemmed from claim relative was abused
Actor Stephen Collins, best known for his role as the Rev. Eric Camden on "7th Heaven," is under investigation for alleged child molestation. (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles police began investigating "7th Heaven" actor Stephen Collins in 2012 after receiving a report from a woman who claimed she had been molested by Collins 40 years earlier, a police captain said Wednesday.

The woman said she was abused in New York but was concerned that Collins may have molested a relative in California, Capt. Fabian Lizarraga said.

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The Los Angeles Police Department was never able to substantiate the allegation, Lizarraga said.

Lizarraga said detectives repeatedly reached out to the actor's relative but she never responded.

"We can't force her to talk to us," Lizarraga said. "She's an adult now."

Lizarraga said investigators also spoke to Collins' estranged wife and obtained a recording of a therapy session with Collins in which the actor talked about exposing himself to children. By the time the tape surfaced publicly Tuesday, the LAPD's case was no longer active.

He said detectives in Los Angeles were aware that the New York Police Department was investigating the claim by the woman who said she was abused decades earlier.

The New York Police Department revealed Tuesday that special victims detectives were investigating Collins, 67, after celebrity news site TMZ posted an audiotape in which a man purported to be the actor confessed to sexually abusing three girls. TMZ said the tape was recorded by Collins' estranged wife during a therapy session with the actor.

The man on the tape mentioned two victims in New York and one in Los Angeles, TMZ said.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department had been in contact with the NYPD and was reviewing the tape, but had not reopened its own formal investigation into Collins.

Smith said the LAPD would also review its 2012 investigation "to make certain that nothing was missed."

"The case here has not been reopened," he said. "We are merely reviewing the case for accuracy."

The revelations come amid a prolonged divorce between Collins and his wife, who were married in 1985. In divorce documents filed in November 2013, Faye Grant said she was "sickened" when she learned a year before that her husband "engaged in a long term pattern of sexually abusing minor children."

Attorneys for Grant and Collins did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the court documents, Grant said Collins revealed his "secret life" during a January 2012 therapy session, and that she separated from her husband two weeks later. She said she contacted police in New York and Los Angeles regarding the alleged abuse.

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

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Collins has appeared on numerous television shows, films and on Broadway, but is perhaps best known for his role as the minister Eric Camden on the family-oriented drama "7th Heaven."

After news of the NYPD's investigation broke Tuesday, Collins was dropped from the film "Ted 2." An Atlanta-based cable company also pulled "7th Heaven" reruns from its schedule.

TV news trucks and reporters were camped outside Collins' Tarzana home Tuesday night when the LAPD received a report of a "loud pop" inside that some of the reporters thought could have been a gunshot. Officers responded to the scene and determined no one was home at the time.

LAPD Lt. Robert Davis said police were able to make contact with Collins and confirm he was safe.

Smith said the report of a "loud pop" came from someone in a media van parked outside the home.

Follow @LAcrimes and @katemather on Twitter for more Los Angeles crime news.

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