Stephen Collins: 'An Overall Good Guy,' Former Costar Says

Friends of the 7th Heaven actor and his estranged wife, Faye Grant, rally around couple

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

While Stephen Collins remains in hiding after he allegedly confessed to child molestation, friends of the actor and his estranged wife, Faye Grant, are speaking out in support of the couple.

Former 7th Heaven cast member Kyle Searles told PEOPLE that Collins, 67, was an “overall good guy” and not an “overly private person who would lead you to believe he was capable of such things that came out recently.”

Searles, who played Mac from 2004 to 2007 on the WB drama that starred Collins as a minister and married father of seven children, said he felt compelled to speak on the actor’s behalf because “it’s important for everybody to know the type of person he was prior to anything coming out.”

“Stephen was a very involved, very engaged human being. So when the news came out and all these allegations, it blew me away. It absolutely blew me away,” said Searles, 29, who now lives in Dallas and works in real estate. “It made me think, ‘I don’t know what’s real anymore. Is my judge of character that poor?’ Then I thought, ‘I couldn’t be the only one who thought Stephen was a great guy.’ ”

Actress and director Jeanie Hackett, who met Collins and Grant in the ’80s at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, talked about how they were “such a loving couple” and admits she was shocked to learn of their divorce after 27 years of marriage. But Hackett also defended Grant, 56, who was accused by Collins’s lawyer of attempting to extort a bigger divorce settlement by releasing the tape of her husband allegedly admitting to improper contact with three minors.

“I don’t believe Faye is manipulating any of this for any kind of financial gain,” Hackett told PEOPLE. “I believe that this is a story of someone who has a disease and someone who has been profoundly affected by it, not a story of vicious people and someone trying to prevail in a money divorce.”

With reporting by PATRICK GOMEZ

For more on the Collinses’ divorce and the ongoing investigation, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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