The former 7th Heaven star said the experience distorted his perception of what was appropriate

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated December 20, 2014 10:15 AM
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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 7th Heaven actor Stephen Collins told Katie Couric a woman who had inappropriate sexual interactions with him when he was a boy might have played a role in his own sexual advances toward children.

“I did have someone in my life when I was between the ages of 10 and 15, an older woman, who repeatedly exposed herself to me,” Collins told the Yahoo Global News anchor during a sit-down that was released on the site Friday, the same day it aired on 20/20.

This week, Collins, 67, admitted to PEOPLE that he had inappropriate sexual contact with three girls more than 20 years ago. He told Couric his victims were 10, 13 and 14 – and he wasn’t trying to bring up the older woman as an “excuse.”

“That distorted my perception in such a way that some part of me felt – I never felt like I was molested. That word never crossed my mind as a 10 to 15-year-old boy. It was a very intense experience – I think somewhere in my brain I got the equation that, ‘Well, this isn’t so terrible. This person who I trust is doing it,’ ” he said.

Pressed for details, Collins got specific about how this unnamed woman exposed herself to him – and how often it happened.

“Being in various states of undress or complete undress,” he said. “[It happened] quite a few times.”

Collins added that he’s not “blaming” this woman for his actions, but “I think that’s an aspect that went into my own distorted thinking as a young man.”