03/08/2006 AT 7:00 AM ET
Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher has revealed that she was sexually abused by an uncle – something that has haunted the actress for 35 years.
In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Hatcher describes how she carried her horrible secret with her until the 2002 suicide of a 14-year-old girl who also was molested by the uncle, Richard Hayes Stone, Reuters reports.
Afraid that her uncle might avoid prosecution, Hatcher recounts how she found out about the case in newspaper stories and was “blown over by this girl’s pain,” the actress said. “I thought, ‘Boy, that’s really close to being me.’”
Santa Clara, Calif., Deputy District Attorney Chuck Gillingham says it was Hatcher’s testimony that eventually led to a guilty plea from Stone and a 14-year prison sentence.
“Without Teri, this case would have been dismissed,” Gillingham tells Vanity Fair.
Hatcher said that she kept the abuse, which took place when she was 5, a secret from everyone, including her parents. She last saw Stone when she was 8 or 9 years old.
“That’s a victim thing; you ask yourself, ‘Am I just crazy? Did I make all this up?’ Somehow it might be easier to accept that you’re crazy and made it all up than to admit that it happened, and how awful it was,” she said.
Hatcher never discussed her involvement in the case, even after Stone’s sentencing, nor does she discuss it in her upcoming memoir, Burned Toast.
But Hatcher says she’s been haunted by the abuse her entire life and she finally realized it would be better to get it out in the open.
“I’m 41 years old, and it’s time for me to stop hiding,” she said.