The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Desperate star bares past

Los Angeles, March 8: Teri Hatcher, whose acting career was revived by her turn as a desperate housewife on secrets-laden Wisteria Lane, has carried a dark secret of her own for 35 years, revealed this week in a Vanity Fair cover story by contributing editor Leslie Bennetts.

Hatcher, 41, said she was sexually abused by her uncle, Richard Hayes Stone, for three or four years, starting when she was 5.

Her parents, she said, never became aware of what was happening, though her mother seemed to sense something amiss after Hatcher “went ballistic” when her uncle and aunt were invited to dinner when she was 8 or 9. Her mother, she said, “felt like something weird was happening, and she removed me from the situation, but she never asked me about it. After that, I didn’t see my aunt and uncle.”

Hatcher told no one of the abuse, Bennetts writes.

In 2002, before Desperate Housewives relaunched her career, Hatcher’s mother handed her some recent newspaper clippings: Stone had been arrested and charged with three counts of sexually molesting the daughter of a neighbour. His victim, Sarah Van Cleemput, had killed herself, leaving a note that said: “You’re probably thinking a normal person doesn’t do this, well ask Dick.”

After agonising about whether to come forward, she contacted prosecutors, whose case had been stymied by a lack of evidence.

Prosecutors believed that Stone, who had only admitted to a passionate kiss with Sarah, had abused three other girls, but were unable to persuade any to come forward.

“Without Teri, this case would have been dismissed,” prosecutor Chuck Gillingham told Vanity Fair. Stone was sentenced to 14 years in jail after pleading guilty.

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