TV Dads Who Committed Real-Life Crimes

There's something about TV dads that make us, as a collective, hopeful. We look to them for guidance, for comfort, to know that everything is going to be okay. And we've placed iconic small-screen fathers like Bill Cosby as Dr. Huxtable and Stephen Collins as Eric Camden on pedestals as if they can do no wrong: They're wholesome, they play doctors and priests, and they dole out life wisdom!

Except those are their characters — not the real guys.

Outside of their popular shows The Cosby Show and 7th Heaven, respectively, Cosby and Collins' real-life behavior is downright horrifying. And unfortunately, they're not alone in their abhorrent behavior.

All of these beloved on-screen fathers committed off-screen deeds that ranged from ridiculous to heinous to criminal, and it's up to audiences to reconcile the supremely flawed men behind the idealized characters that made them famous. Spoiler: It's not an easy task to accomplish.

Tim Allen was a drug dealer and a snitch

Tim Allen served serious time behind bars before becoming TV dad Tim "The Toolman" Taylor on Home Improvement.

In October 1978, Allen was busted in a Kalamazoo, Mich. airport for possessing 650 grams of cocaine. CBS News reported that Allen pleaded guilty to drug trafficking. Looking at a possible sentence, Allen provided the names of other area drug dealers in exchange for a sentence of three to seven years. He was released after two years and four months.

Allen then adopted a hard anti-drug stance, explaining to The Los Angeles Times in 1991, "I felt guilty about being part of that problem, and then I wanted to preach. 'Stop it!' I wanted to stop (the nation's cocaine problem). But nobody wanted to hear that from a comic."

He later told Closer Weekly of his prison stint, "It was a watershed moment. ... It put me in a position of great humility, and I was able to make amends to friends and family and refocus my life on setting and achieving goals."

Jeffrey Jones was busted on child pornography charges

You may not recognize actor Jeffrey Jones by name, but chances are you've seen him as disdainful principal Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), as Lydia's dad Charles Deetz in Beetlejuice (1988), as A.W. Merrick in Deadwood, or as cartoonist and father Walter Kellogg in The People Next Door. In November 2002, Jones was arrested for using a minor for sex acts (a felony) and charged with a misdemeanor count of child pornography possession, Entertainment Weekly reported. Police reportedly arrested Jones after investigating him when a teenage boy alleged that Jones hired him to pose for sexually explicit photographs.

Jones eventually pleaded no contest to paying a minor to pose for sexually explicit photos, TMZ reported, and he was ordered to register annually as a sex offender. In 2010, Jones neglected to complete his registration for the year. He was then sentenced to three years of probation and 250 hours of community service in the form of roadside cleanup.

Bill Cosby is a convicted rapist

Bill Cosby was America's wholesome, affable dad: A comedian who produced and starred in a hit, clean sitcom and was so family friendly that he endorsed — of all things — Jell-O. But behind the jolly, paternal exterior lurked a deeply sinister side: Cosby was accused of sexually assaulting at least 60 women by April 2018, and in September of that year, he was sentenced to three to ten years in prison after he was convicted of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.

Constand alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted her at his home when she was the administrator of the Temple University women's basketball team in 2004 (via NBC News). Cosby denied the accusation, as much as he denied every other sexual misconduct allegation levied against him — but this time, prosecutors pursued criminal charges against the comic. His first trial ended in a mistrial, but, at his retrial, which featured testimony from other accusers, including model Janice Dickinson, the jury found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.

Cosby was the first star convicted of a sex crime in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

"Nobody is above the law because of where they live, who they are, wealth, fame, celebrity or even philanthropy," Judge Steven O'Neill told Cosby at his sentencing (via NBC News). "The court must consider the protection of the public and the gravity of the offense and the rehabilitation of the defendant. ... Your time has come."

Michael Jace murdered his wife

Michael Jace played hardworking LAPD officer and father Julien Lowe in FX's The Shield, as well as a cop on Southland — and he even starred as Michael Jordan in a TV biopic. However, his real life was even more dramatic and violent than anything he experienced on screen: Jace was convicted of murdering his wife.

CNN reports that Jace's wife, April, had asked for a divorce, sending Jace into a rage because he was allegedly convinced that she was involved with another man. In May 2014, Jace reportedly shot April in her back, then in her legs — in front of their sons, who were 8 and 5 years old at the time. He reportedly had a history of domestic violence for years prior to her murder, with reports claiming that he choked and beat his ex-wife, Jennifer Bitterman, in front of their infant son.

In June 2016, Jace was sentenced to 40 years in prison for April's murder.

Louis C.K. confessed to sexual misconduct

While Louie star and father of two Louis C.K. was never charged with a crime, he confessed to sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against several women, some of whom he worked with in television.

In November 2017, five women accused C.K. of sexual harassment in The New York Times, including comedians Abby Schachner and Rebecca Corry — the latter of whom claimed that, while they were both working on a television pilot, C.K. asked her if she would watch him pleasure himself. Another female who asked to not be named in the story alleged that C.K. masturbated in front of her when they both worked on The Chris Rock Show in the late '90s.

Schachner said that C.K. apologized to her for his behavior in 2009, while Corry said C.K. offered her a mea culpa shortly before rumors of his behavior were reported by Defamer. However, Corry claimed that C.K. apologized to her for "shoving her in a bathroom," which she said never he did to her, leading her to believe that there were likely many more victims than those who came forward.

After denying and dismissing reports for years, he admitted in an editorial that he did, in fact, reveal himself to his accusers.

Stephen Collins said he exposed himself to minors

Stephen Collins, who starred as pastor and beloved TV dad Eric Camden on 7th Heaven, admitted in an audio recording obtained by TMZ to exposing himself to female minors, aged 11, 12, and 13 in the past, and that he placed the hand of at least one victim on his penis. He was never convicted or officially prosecuted for any crime, however, because, in most of his cases, the cases were decades old and the statute of limitations had already passed, TMZ reported.

Collins confessed that the recording was legitimate and that the allegations were true, telling People in a statement, "Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. ... On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth."

Collins added that he didn't apologize to two of the three victims, but not because he wasn't sorry. He explained, "I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s."

Rob Lowe made a sex tape with an underage girl

In 1989, Rob Lowe, then 24, went to an Atlanta nightclub, where he met two young ladies who later went back to his hotel room with him and agreed to be videotaped performing intimate acts with the Brat Pack actor (via Yahoo! Entertainment). The problem? Well, one of those young ladies was very young — just 16 years old. The age of consent in Georgia is 16, but having video of a nude minor and/or a minor performing sex acts? That can be considered child pornography under federal law.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the girls allegedly left Lowe's room with the tape, which began making its rounds; Lowe denied knowing one of his partners was underage because she was in a nightclub for adults. People reported that prosecutors declined to press charges against Lowe, but that he paid an undisclosed sum to the girl and her family and agreed to perform 20 hours of community service.

Now? Lowe's worked pretty consistently for more than two decades. His most celebrated roles in recent years were super clean-cut city manager and father of two, Chris Traeger, on Parks And Recreation and Republican Senator and father Robert McAllister on Brothers & Sisters.

Josh Duggar reportedly molested minors — and Jim Bob didn't report it right away

Reality TV dad Josh Duggar of 19 Kids And Counting has five children of his own with wife Anna Duggar, and is a staunch conservative Christian. His past, however, is not family friendly at all.

InTouch obtained documents revealing that Josh allegedly committed at least seven acts of molestation, reportedly against his younger sisters and at least one of their friends while they slept in a common area. Josh was reportedly 15 years old at the time, while the girls were as young as 5. The documents also revealed that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Josh's parents, waited 16 months before reporting Josh's molestation of the girls, during which time the sexual assaults allegedly became more frequent.

The report also alleges that Jim Bob and Michelle never sought counseling for Josh nor for his victims during that time and, if the statute of limitations hadn't expired, Jim Bob and Michelle could have faced jail time for not taking action to stop Josh's behavior.

In 2017, four of Josh's sisters sued the Springdale, Ark. police department over the leak of the documents.