||| Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times |||
Young male actors in Santa Barbara during the 1970's looked up to producer Gary Goddard as an exalted figure, now it seems that Goddard was abusing young boys during his successful Hollywood career.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Mark Driscoll</span>
Goddard returned to his hometown to after a successful run as a theatrical prodigy and began mentoring young child actors in his hometown. He vowed to bring the most talented of the children with him back to Hollywood but the seemingly picturesque plan may have had ominous undertones for several members of the theater group Goddard who referred to as the "Goddardites."
Now, nearly four decades later, many of the "Goddardites" have come forward to reveal that Goddard sexually abused them when they were young children. Actor Anthony Edwards wrote an online essay last month that said Goddard sexually abused him in Santa Barbara when he was a young boy.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Bret Nighman</span>
Seven other "Goddardites" from the theater group have also come forward to the Los Angeles Times to say their former mentor molested or attempted to most them when they were young boys.
The former child actors describe Goddard's advances as ranging from putting his hand on their thighs during slow points during production or fondling them while on a Disneyland ride, to repeated sexual abuse during overnight stays while on a statewide tour.
Both Edwards and another former theater student both said in separate interviews that a classmate who has since died named Scott Drnavich told them he was sexually assaulted by Goddard as a young boy.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Francine Orr</span>
Another child actor named Linus Huffman who acted in Goddard's production "Oliver!" when he was 13, says Goddard attempted to use mentoring as a reason to grope him. "He pulled me aside and put his hands on my legs and went, ‘I’m very proud of you,’ and was going towards my crotch area," Huffman said.
Goddard is now 65 and leading a vigorous and lucrative career directing, producing and writing in Hollywood and on Broadway. The Hollywood mogul also works as a designer of theme park rides and other attractions and has declined to be interviewed when asked by the Los Angeles Times.
Goddard's publicist, Sam Singer, disputed the allegations against him saying they were "full of innuendo and hearsay." Singer went on to say, "If it were possible to prove a negative, Mr. Goddard would debate these 40-year-old allegations." Instead, he would only "categorically deny" the allegations.
The victim's of Goddard's alleged sexual abuse have gone on to lead successful careers in Hollywood and other industries but say they have struggled with the psychological damage left behind by the abuse.
Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor Anthony Edwards said, "This is a man who’s attracted to little boys, and attracted in the sickest way. This is not love, this is not friendship what he was doing. It is a horror because it is manipulating young hearts and minds."
During a theater production called "Peter Pan", the production's self-described "mother hen" Barbara Costa said in an interview she became "highly suspicious" of Goddard's behavior on the tour and "the way Gary collected these boys. They would swirl around him."
Costa went on to describe how Goddard requested a room divider to separate the boys from the adults during the tour but then he chose to sleep on the side with the boys.
One morning at a camp near Lake Tahoe where the group was touring, Costa said she saw Edwards walking with a limp as if he was in pain and had an "awful expression on his face as if he was about to cry." Edwards says he doesn't remember the incident at the camp.
A 15-year-old boy on the tour wrote his own assay after physically fighting to keep Goddard out of his own bed and underwear, eventually, he gave up and went to Edward's bed instead where he witnessed Goddard sexually molest him.
Edward's says he still struggles with the healing the damage Goddard did and "In a sense, it’s truly my ‘me too." Since coming forward Edwards says he has been inundated with correspondence from victims of sexual abuse. "The amount of letters and emails I’ve gotten has been heartbreaking, but also fantastic because people are healing."
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