Talk about horrible casting instincts.
Stephen Collins, 67, the former “7th Heaven” actor who was caught on tape by his wife admitting to molesting young girls and is currently being investigated by authorities, played a pedophile priest in a short film that’s been making the rounds through the festival circuit.
Director Jeff Wolfe, who worked with Collins on the cancelled NBC show “Revolution,” cast the actor long before any of the accusations against him came to light.
“Although my short film, Penance, has recently played at a number of film festivals, it was actually made in 2013,” Wolfe said in a statement released to People. “When I cast Stephen Collins, I had no idea there might be a connection between his real life and the part I asked him to play. I found the recent allegations particularly shocking, as my film is meant to speak to victims of abuse and the idea that the effects of abuse never really go away.”
The 11-minute long “Penance,” which screened most recently at the Catalina Film Festival in late September and has won several accolades, is Wolfe’s feature short directorial debut. Collins shot his part in just one-day in Austin, Texas.
The short is described on the film’s website as, “One mans (sic) journey of forgiveness. David Lyons (“Safe Haven,” “Revolution”) plays Thomas Walker, a man hounded by personal demons and inner turmoil who has lived long enough with the scars of his past. Stephen Collins (‘7th Heaven,’ ‘Blood Diamond’) is the Priest he visits to clear his conscience and discover exactly what it means to find forgiveness… or to give it.”
And it’s not the first inappropriate role in which Collins has been cast. Back in 1996, he played a dad who has a sexual relationship with teenage babysitter in the Lifetime movie, “The Babysitter’s Seduction.”
Collins is best known for playing Rev. Eric Camden on the popular WB (and later The CW) show “7th Heaven” for 11 seasons from 1996-2007.
On Oct. 7, audio of a private therapy session between Collins and his estranged wife Faye Grant surfaced, in which he discussed three girls he molested.
Since the fallout began, Collins has been cut out of the film “Ted 2,” the TV show “Scandal,” and has been dropped by his management company. TV Guide Network and UP TV have both announced they’ll no longer air “7th Heaven” reruns. The actor has not been seen in public since the allegations against him surfaced, but he’s expected to appear in court for further divorce hearings next month.
TheWrap has reached out to Wolfe for further comment on the casting but hasn’t yet heard back from the director.