updated 08/22/2008 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/22/2008 AT 10:55 AM ET
The former uncle Teri Hatcher helped put in prison has died of colon cancer at 70, six years after being sentenced to 14 years behind bars for molesting two young girls, one of whom committed suicide, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
There has been no comment from Hatcher.
In 2006, the Desperate Housewives star went public with the revelation that Richard Hayes Stone – the then-husband of her mother’s sister – molested her in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when she was no more than 7.
Hatcher said that she kept the abuse 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,” Hatcher, now 43, told Vanity Fair in 2006.
Like others, Hatcher had read newspaper accounts in 2002 about northern California teen Sarah Van Cleemput, who before shooting herself left behind a note saying, “You’re probably thinking a normal teenager doesn’t do this; well, ask Dick!”
Prosecutors linked “Dick” in the note to Stone, a former engineer at National Semiconductor and a close friend of Sarah Van Cleemput’s family.
Putting the Victim First
After much self-debate, including what this might do to her (then-stalled) career, Hatcher decided to contact authorities and provide further evidence of Stone’s criminal past. “At the end of the day, there was no way I was not going to put this girl first, before whatever damage might be done to me,” she said afterwards.
“When we went to interview her, she almost canceled,” Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Chuck Gillingham told the Mercury News in 2006. “But she had been with her daughter that morning and was thinking if, God forbid, something happened to her daughter that someone would come forward and do the right thing.”
Once Hatcher’s interview transcript was entered into evidence, Stone pleaded guilty and received his sentence.
See Teri Hatcher on the cover of PEOPLE