More former child actors have come forward accusing producer Gary Goddard of sexual misconduct.
Following “ER” alum Anthony Edwards’ allegation that Goddard sexually assaulted him when he was 12, seven others from his Santa Barbara theater group are accusing their one-time mentor of molesting or attempting to molest them in the 1970s.
In a Los Angeles Times expose, the former actors detail Goddard’s behavior, which allegedly ranged from fondling to sexual abuse during the troupe’s overnight stays during a statewide tour.
Goddard — a writer, director, producer, and the founder entertainment design company the Goddard Group — has, through a spokesman, “unequivocally” denied the allegations in the past. He took a leave from his own company in late November in the wake of the claims.
Goddard was accused in 2014 of sexually abusing Michael Egan III when he was 16. The suit was later dismissed.
His publicist, Sam Singer, “categorically denied” the allegations in the Times Story, calling them “full of innuendo and hearsay.”
“If it were possible to prove a negative, Mr. Goddard would debate these 40-year-old allegations. Since that is not possible, he will not respond other than to repeat his previous categorical denial,” Singer said in a statement obtained by Variety.
Singer added that his client “is at a loss to understand the attacks that have been made full of innuendo and hearsay. How does one respond to people who were not involved, yet who now think back 40 years to something, and then assign their own meaning today without knowing all of the facts?”
Edwards initially opened up about his experience in an essay on Medium.
“This is a man who’s attracted to little boys, and attracted in the sickest way,” Edwards told the L.A. Times. “This is not love, this is not friendship what he was doing. It is a horror because it is manipulating young hearts and minds.”
After graduating from Santa Barbara High School in 1970, attending California Institute of the Arts, and later landing a job at Walt Disney Imagineering in 1976, Goddard would return to Santa Barbara, directing youth productions, including “Peter Pan,” “The Music Man,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
In addition to Edwards, his proteges at the time included Linus Huffman, Bret Nighman, and Mark Driscoll, who said Goddard repeatedly sexually abused him over a three-year period. His claim was corroborated by four Santa Barbara classmates who were told about the incidents decades ago. Nighman told the paper that Goddard had attempted to molest him four times by the time he was 16. During an especially disturbing incident that allegedly occurred at the mentor’s home in 1977, Nighman recalled Goddard rubbing his crotch and forcing him to reciprocate.
Barbara Costa, who looked after the cast during the touring production of California Youth Theatre’s “Peter Pan,” said she was suspicious of Goddard, who slept among the boys during the overnight trips. Edwards said he was molested during the tour, which two of his fellow castmates said they witnessed. Nighman said he watched Goddard molest Edwards in bed after forcing him out of his own.
Following a get-together in 1990, when the six friends from the Santa Barbara theater group discovered that they had all been abused by Goddard, Driscoll said they drove to their former mentor’s house and confronted him. He reportedly apologized.