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Stephen Collins Confesses Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls to PEOPLE: 'I Did Something Terribly Wrong'

Stephen Collins Confesses Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls to PEOPLE
Stephen Collins
Frederick M. Brown/Getty

12/17/2014 AT 07:30 AM EST

Stephen Collins shares a vividly detailed confession with PEOPLE in which he admits he had inappropriate sexual conduct with underage girls. Subscribe now to access the complete statement, only in PEOPLE.

Embattled actor Stephen Collins has released a lengthy statement to PEOPLE in which he admits to inappropriate sexual conduct with three female minors.

The 67-year-old – who has remained out of the public eye ever since a recording of him confessing to child molestation was released to TMZ – goes into detail about the incidents that occurred over a 20-year time span. In vivid detail, Collins explains how there were three victims from 1973 to 1994, and how "I have not had an impulse to act out in any such way" in the last 20 years.

Collins also writes about why he hasn't apologized directly to the women he once assaulted.

"Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I've decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January, 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist's or my knowledge or consent."

"On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago," Collins continues. "The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth."

The 7th Heaven actor – who will sit down with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric for an in-depth interview based on his PEOPLE essay (this will stream on Yahoo! and air Friday on 20/20 on ABC) – goes on to acknowledge how he has "agonized" over whether to make a direct apology to the women he violated.

"I did have an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later. I apologized and she was extraordinarily gracious," said Collins, who remains in a protracted divorce battle with Grant. "But after I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s."

For Collins's complete statement, read it on PEOPLE Premium or pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

With reporting by KATE COYNE

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