The fallout from the release of an audiotape in which actor Stephen Collins allegedly admits to sexually molesting underage girls has harmed the former "7th Heaven" star's career so much that he is no longer able to afford his spousal support payments. That's what the actor's attorney has told the court hearing his divorce case as well as the press.
The actor and his wife were several years into divorce proceedings when the tape, which was allegedly recorded at one of the couple's therapy sessions, became public. Faye Grant, Collins' estranged wife, has denied leaking the tape to the media.
However, some in the legal community have said that even if she didn't, by recording her husband, she may have violated the law. One legal analyst says that if the recording was made without Collins' knowledge or permission, the person who recorded it could face a misdemeanor charge. Further, he noted, the tape may not be admissible in court.
The court of public opinion is another matter. The sound of the man reported to be Collins admitting to engaging in sexual contact with young girls was swift and loud. According to his attorney, it has also cost the actor significant financial damage and made him unable to afford his monthly spousal support payments of $13,000. He says that Collins has lost roles in the hit television show "Scandal" and the film "Ted 2." Even reruns of "7th Heaven" have been pulled from the air.
The actor's attorney doesn't deny that it is his client on the tape. However, he says that it doesn't reflect the entire story.
While Collins is facing serious damage to his reputation and career, he may escape criminal prosecution. Law enforcement agencies are investigating the matter. However, because the alleged abuse occurred decades ago, prosecutors may not be able to bring charges.
Divorce battles can also be ugly. While alleged criminal activity should be reported, spouses need to work with their attorneys to do it properly. Even when no crime is involved, divorcing spouses may be tempted to air the other's dirty laundry. However, this can backfire if it damages a career and impacts the person's ability to make support payments. It's essential to have a strong legal team and support system of friends and advisors who can talk you down from tactics that, no matter how satisfying they may feel, can have serious ramifications.
Source: NBC 4 Washington, ""7th Heaven" Actor Losing Work Over Audio: Attorney" Ted Chen, NBC 4 Los Angeles, Nov. 13, 2014