Recently, actor Stephen Collins, former “7th Heaven” star, was interviewed by Yahoo Global news anchor Katie Couric. 1 In the segment, which aired on ABC News’s “20/20,” Collins discussed his 2012 confession to the sexual abuse of three underage girls. 2 Collins admitted to molesting and exposing himself to girls between 1973 and 1994.
Collins’ confession was initially taped during a marriage counseling session in 2012 by his estranged wife, actress Faye Grant. 3 It is unclear as to whether Grant had the therapist’s permission to tape Collins. It is also unclear as to whether Grant leaked the tape to TMZ. 4 After the tape was leaked, Collins used the Couric interview and other disclosures to explain his actions.
In the interview with Couric, Collins stated he has been in therapy for 20 years, and showed remorse for his acts. He also disclosed that when he was between the ages of 10 and 15, an older woman exposed herself to him. He believes this contributed to his abuse of the girls. 5
Collins’ statements indicate that some individuals who have committed child sex abuse can use therapy to prevent themselves from engaging in inappropriate conduct in the future. Further, individuals can work with a therapist to understand how they feel about their sexual urges and pinpoint the origin of their interest.
Mental Health Treatment Works Better than Incarceration
Mental health treatment helps individuals recognize situations in which they will create or face a risk. It also helps them avoid that risk. Through therapy, individuals can work to limit their contact with persons in which they may have an inappropriate sexual interest. For those who have committed a sexual offense, the ultimate goal is relapse prevention. 6
Historically, California has not provided adequate mental health treatment specifically for individuals convicted of sex offenses while they are in custody. Treatment is offered to individuals who have a mental health disorder and are housed in state hospitals. 7
Individuals convicted of child sex offenses face a great danger by remaining in prison for long periods. These individuals are not well liked by other prisoners. 8 Many take the position that current state laws that punish sex offenders are ineffective as well as overly harsh. 9 There is an argument that society would face reduced costs for incarceration and convicted individuals would receive more of a benefit from treatment.
One of the most famous studies on treatment was conducted from 1973 to 1990 by Drs. Barry Maletzky and Kevin McGovern of The Sexual Abuse Clinic of Portland, Oregon. The two researchers followed 5,000 offenders treated in their clinic and similar clinics using behavior-oriented methods. About 3,700 of these individuals had expressed or been convicted of an offense involving sexual interest in children. The researchers found that as to 3,700 offenders, success was achieved with 94.7% of heterosexual individuals and 85.4% of homosexual individuals. 10 The success was achieved for as long as 17 years after treatment. It was defined by no re-arrest, self-reporting of no maladaptive sexual behaviors, and a reduction in arousal when exposed to material or situations involving children.
In a 1999 review of 424 studies, Dr. Margaret Alexander of the Oshkosh Wisconsin Correction Facility found that treated offender reoffended at a rate of 11%. Untreated offenders reoffended at a rate of 17.6%. 11
Call an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Now
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1. [Yahoo! News, Katie Couric. Exclusive: Stephen Collins opens up about sexual abuse of underage girls. See: http://news.yahoo.com/stephen-collins-talks-to-katie-couric-about-sexual-abuse-misconduct-212303187.html]↩
2. [ABC News, Stephen Collins Describes ‘Unthinkably Wrong’ Encounter With Girl. See: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/stephen-collins-describes-unthinkably-wrong-encounter-girl/story?id=27680850]↩
3. [CNN story, see Reference No. iii.]↩
4. [CNN story, see Reference No. iii. See also San Jose Mercury News, Stephen Collins Says He Is Not a Pedophile. See: http://www.mercurynews.com/entertainment/ci_27171169/stephen-collins-says-he-is-not-pedophile]↩
5. [San Jose Mercury News story, see Reference No. vi.]↩
6. [Counseling Today. Sex Offender Therapy: A Battle on Multiple Fronts. See: http://ct.counseling.org/2014/03/sex-offender-therapy-a-battle-on-multiple-fronts/]↩
7. [State of California, September 2013, Annual Evaluation of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Contracted Sex Offender Treatment Programs. See: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/adult_research_branch/Research_Documents/FY2011_2012_Contracted_Sex_Offender_Treatment_Provider_Evaluation_10.25.13_Final.pdf]↩
8. [ABC News. Prison is ‘Living Hell’ for Pedophiles. See: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90004]↩
9. [The New York Times. Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/opinion/sunday/sex-offenders-the-last-pariahs.html]↩
10. [California Coalition on Sexual Offending. Sex Offender Treatment: Does It Work? Is It Worth It? See: http://www.ccoso.org/newsletter/worthit.html]↩
11. [Alexander, Margaret A. (1999). Sexual offender treatment efficacy revisited. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11 (2), 101-117.]↩