Stephen Collins Describes 'Inappropriate' Encounter with 10-Year-Old

Collins tells Yahoo Global Anchor Katie Couric that he is not sexually or physically attracted to children.
12:36 | 12/20/14

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Transcript for Stephen Collins Describes 'Inappropriate' Encounter with 10-Year-Old
scrooge. Tonight, Elizabeth vargas and David Muir. We start with the bomb shell confessions, Stephen Collins. Tonight, the actor best known as a minister on "Seventh heaven" speaks exclusively to Katie couric. Reporter: In a town notorious for its toxic break-ups, few have been as bitter as the family feud between the actor Stephen Collins and his wife, Faye grant. This morning, the scandal surrounding actor Stephen Collins gets uglier by the day. Reporter: Married 29 years, they seemed to be a Hollywood anomaly, the picture perfect couple. But little did we know -- I've always said this, marriage is absolutely unfathomable. You think you understand someone else's marriage, nobody does. Nobody does. Reporter: A steady presence in both movies and television for the last 40 years, Collins has played everything from a Nixon aide in "All the president's men" -- What happened on June 17th, I don't think the president knew anything about. Reporter: To a straight-laced starship captain in "Star trek" -- Admiral Kirk, well we're getting a top brass send off. Reporter: To Diane Keaton's estranged husband in "The first wives club." Think of yourself, yourself, yourself. If you go through with this, I'll have nothing. Reporter: But he's best known as reverend Eric Camden, father of seven and pillar of the community for 11 seasons on the hit series, "Seventh heaven." I think god put you on hold. I think god brought you here. Reporter: Offscreen, he seemed to practice what he preached, volunteering at soup kitchens and serving communion at his local church. But beneath that squeaky clean image, Collins was hiding a secret. Did it feel like you were living a double life in any way? No, but we're all made of dark parts and light parts. I know that other people are going to judge and doubt. All I can do is tell my truth. Reporter: The story exploded this fall when TMZ released audio of Collins and his wife while they were undergoing marriage counseling. Audio that included admissions of his sexual misconduct with three underage girls decades ago. There was once instance. There was one instance what? I told you before there was one instance, where for, there was one moment of touching. Reporter: Unbeknownst to Collins, Faye had secretly recorded every disturbing word. When did you realize she was wearing a wire? She took me into a stairwell. And she told me there. She revealed that -- she said, "I recorded. I was wearing a wire. I recorded that session." And she said, "Here's our settlement. You're gonna sign it now. Or this, that recording, is gonna find its way to the media." Reporter: Grant denies being the source of the leak but the fallout was fast and furious. He was dropped from a recurring role on ABC's "Scandal," ironically, and fired from the set of the soon-to-be released comedy "Ted 2." He played a sweet, sympathetic reverend on television, but now in real life he's accused of being a monster. Reporter: The news about that sordid recording instantly destroyed a reputation he had spent decades building and publically branded him as a sexual predator. The first incident was in 1973. You were 25 years old. Right. How old was the victim? She was 10. Reporter: Tell us what happened. Well, in 1973, there were two occasions when I exposed myself to this young woman. And several months later, she came to visit and she and I were watching T.V. Alone together. And I -- took her hand and moved it in such a way that she was touching me inappropriately. I knew that something unthinkably wrong had just happened that I couldn't take back. And I -- I think we both just sat there. We really didn't move a muscle. And after about -- what I recall was about 45 seconds, I -- took her hand and moved it back. I waited a couple of minutes, 'cause I just didn't know what to do or say. And then I got up and left the room. Reporter: But a decade later, in the same year he met his wife on the set of "Tales of the gold monkey," it happened again. There were two times in 1982, 20 years ago in 1994, when I -- I exposed myself to two different teenage girls. There was no physical contact of any kind with either of them. Reporter: Do you remember the look on these girls' faces? The look on the one in 1982 was such that it immediately just stopped everything cold. It was clear that she was disoriented and frightened. And that just made me want to stop and cover up. And I did. Reporter: How old were -- were these girls in 1982 and 1994? They were 13 and 14. Reporter: Did you find this sexually gratifying? Not at all. I mean, not at all. It was not exciting. It was not gratifying. There was no gratification. Reporter: Then why did you do it? It was a combination of poor impulse control, arrogance, 25-year-old arrogance. Reporter: When was the first moment you realized that you had these impulses? An attraction to prepubescent or underage girls? No. No. That -- that's the thing, and -- I absolutely do not have that attraction. I have -- I -- I am not attracted to underage girls. Keep in mind that the only time there was any physical contact with an underage girl was in 1973. And the incident in 1982, god help me, took -- took advantage. That's not the right word. But I -- I acted impulsively again. Reporter: I think "Taking advantage" may be an appropriate term. Well, it -- maybe it is exactly the right word. Reporter: Are you a pedophile? I do not fit the either clinical or dictionary definition of it, but I'm absolutely not attracted, physically or sexually attracted to children. Reporter: Never tempted? No. Reporter: Never had the urge? That seems sort of weird to me, if this was a pattern of behavior, that you could go for several years and not have that inclination. Because I didn't walk around thinking, "Oh boy, I could do something now, but no, I'm not going to." I don't white-knuckle this. This is not something I'm -- I'm not fighting. It's not like if I miss therapy next week something's gonna happen. Reporter: Are there any other women out there? No. Reporter: No one else is going to come forward and say, "This happened to me in 1987." I can't guarantee you what someone might do. But I can tell you that if they were doing that, it would not be truthful. Reporter: For the past 20 years, he says, he's been in intensive therapy, which has included therapeutic workshops, religious counseling and a 12-step program. And in discussing that difficult journey of self-discovery, Collins speculates that something he experienced in his own childhood may have contributed to his behavior. Have you figured out any other reason why you would do -- do this repeatedly? The thing that makes the most sense to me, and it's not an excuse, 'cause none of this is an excuse. But I did have someone in my life when I was between the age of about 10 and 15, an older woman, who repeatedly exposed herself to me. And I -- I think that that distorted my perception in such a way that some part of me thought, because -- I never felt like I was molested. Never occurred to me, that word never crossed my mind as a 10 to 15-year-old boy. It was a very intense experience. But I think somewhere in my brain I got the equation of, well, this isn't so terrible. I mean this person who I trust is -- is doing it. Reporter: When a woman exposes herself, I mean, what are you referring to? She lifted her shirt? What does that mean exactly? Being in various states of undress, or complete undress. Reporter: And this happened on several occasions? Yes, quite a few times. Reporter: That may elicit some eye rolls by people listening to this. "Oh, okay, this is why he did that." It's not why I did it. I'm not blaming her. I'm just saying, "I think that's an aspect that went into my own distorted thinking as a young man." Reporter: I'm trying to understand exhibitionism, sort of, as a pattern. Is it about power? Is it about seeing someone shocked? What -- what motivates it? I think it is about power, but not consciously. There is a statement that says "Figuring it out is the booby prize." That sounds odd. What that means to a lot of people in recovery is you can figure it out, you can intellectually understand it, but what's important is what your behavior is. I'm still in regular therapy. I always will be out of respect for those women and it's just not going to happen again and it hasn't and I feel very confident that it won't. Reporter: Until now, Collins has kept a low public profile. Avoiding all questions about the scandal and his nasty divorce. Tonight, in a statement, Faye grant said his statements are false and are an attempt to me to deflect. I hope he gets the help he needs. Why did you want to do this interview? The truth as painful as it is, is less painful than the stuff that was flying around the internet and some of the rumors. Reporter: The former reverend Camden may have fallen from grace, but he says he's constantly atoning for the harm he caused three young girls years ago. I think of those women -- every day. And I would say, "With all my heart, I am sorry for what I put you through, and I want you to know that nothing like that will ever happen again." Reporter: In real life, I know that you're a person of faith. Has this made you lose faith, or has it made your faith stronger? In the church, Christ said in so many ways, "Bring me that which -- about you which is broken. Bring it." I'm a human being. I have faults, but I know I have a really good heart. And that in spite of these things, that I'm a good man trying to be a better man. While the statute of limitations has expired, there is an open investigation in new York City. Should he be held accountable in some way?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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