Stephen Collins Plays Pedophile Priest in New Short Film

by Jackie Willis 9:52 AM PDT, October 15, 2014
Photo: Getty Images

Sometimes, it all comes down to bad timing: The newly released short film Penance stars 7th Heaven actor Stephen Collins -- who is being investigated for child molestation -- as a pedophile priest.

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The movie was shot last year and was directed by Emmy winner Jeff Wolfe (Revolution) and also stars David Lyons (Safe Haven, Revolution). According to the film's website, Lyons plays "Thomas Walker, a man hounded by personal demons and inner turmoil who has lived long enough with the scars of his past."

The short has played at dozens of independent film festivals around the country, even winning Best Picture at Los Angeles’ 2014 Downtown Film Fest.

Collins takes on the role of a priest who is visited by Lyons' character in an effort to "clear his conscience and discover exactly what it means to find forgiveness... or to give it," according to the official description.

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Amid all the recent controversy surrounding Collins, Wolfe released a statement to People about the 67-year-old actor's part in the short.

"Although my short film, Penance, has recently played at a number of film festivals, it was actually made in 2013," Wolfe said. "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."

CBS News points out that Collins spoke about the film at this year's WonderCon, calling it a "powerful piece about a priest and a former parishioner ... it's very intense."

The actor has not been seen since audio tapes in which he allegedly confesses to sexual misconduct with underage girls surfaced online on Oct. 7.