Child abuse is a tough topic. There is just no right way to talk about it, and for me there are too many thoughts to get down coherently. So when I decided to write a post about Stephen Collins, the actor who played Reverend Eric Camden on 7th Heaven, and about his alleged crimes against children, I really didn’t know where it would take me.
In case you haven’t been following it, here’s the story in a nutshell: TMZ got ahold of a recording from a 2012 therapy session in which Stephen Collins admits to exposing himself to three different girls, between the ages of 11 – 13. The events being discussed happened twenty five years before the time of recording. It came out because one of the girls, a relative of his first wife, came forward with this accusation. Because of a statute of limitations in New York, there was no case at that time. His second wife recorded his admission and gave it to police, but no other victims came forward (at least that’s how I understand it) so it all just fizzled out. Now, conveniently in time with divorce proceedings with this second wife, the tape got leaked.
No matter who the person committing these acts are, whether it’s a famous person or not, my stomach always turns to hear about child abuse. I don’t understand anyone committing violent acts against kids or animals. It’s never OK to pick on someone who can’t defend themselves. But I can’t help but feel like things have blown up in a really bad way for Stephen Collins, and I there’s a part of me that doesn’t quite know if he deserves it.
I’m an Idealist. I believe that people are generally good, and I think everyone deserves a fair trial. Thanks to the internet and gossip mags, celebrities do not get that. As soon as this tape came out (a tape from two years ago, that discussed incidents that happened twenty five years ago), Collins lost acting jobs. He either resigned from or was kicked off a couple of boards. And 7th Heaven was taken off its regular rotation on at least one network. I understand it’s Hollywood and the suits have to look out for number one, and letting a guy with this much negative press be on your screens probably isn’t good for business, but what about innocent until proven guilty? We are all so quick to judge and ruin someone’s life based on three minutes of tape. We don’t know what came before or after that three minutes.
Am I standing before you and proclaiming Stephen Collins’ innocence? No. I am saying I do not know. I am not him, nor am I a member of his family or any of the families involved in this situation. It is impossible for me, or you, to have any idea what is really going on here. And frankly, it’s not our business.
Here’s what I do know: I love 7th Heaven. I think it’s a sweet, family-friendly show. Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy, but that’s what makes it fun. And Stephen Collins was a great Eric Camden. He brought life and personality to a rather silly role. Whatever has happened in this actor’s personal life has no effect on the quality of the show.
I hope this whole issue works out the way it should. I hope if wrongs have been committed then they are made as right as they can. And I hope that people will someday soon be able to separate a person from a fictional character he portrayed a decade ago so I can get back to watching a wholesome television show without being accused of supporting a child molester.