Gary Goddard Takes Leave Amid Sexual Assault Claims

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"We believe this move is in the best interest of the company, its employees and clients," says Goddard Group chief operating officer Barry Kemper.

Writer-producer Gary Goddard is taking a leave of absence from the Goddard Group, his North Hollywood-based entertainment design firm, amid accusations of sexual assault, rape and pedophilia from three men, including actor Anthony Edwards. 

The move, announced late Monday night in a statement made by the company’s chief operating officer, Barry Kemper, is said to be voluntary and for an unspecified amount of time. It is effective immediately.

Taylor Jeffs, who has been serving as design director for the past 14 years, will assume the role of president and chief creative officer of the company.

Kemper said the leave will allow the company and its employees to continue their projects undistracted by the allegations of sexual misconduct, adding, “We believe this move is in the best interest of the company, its employees and clients." 

Goddard's leave comes less than three weeks after Edwards published an explosive essay, entitled "Yes Mom, There Is Something Wrong," on Medium claiming that Goddard, who had served as a father figure to him, was a pedophile. "I was molested by Goddard, my best friend was raped by him  —  and this went on for years. The group of us, the gang, stayed quiet," wrote Edwards, 55, adding that he first met Goddard when he was 12 years old.  

He added that he ran into Goddard at an airport 22 years ago and confronted him about the abuse. "I was able to express my outrage at what he had done. He swore to his remorse and said that he had gotten help," Edwards continued. 

The actor's accusations, posted Nov. 10, were denied by Goddard through a rep later that day. 

"Gary first met Anthony more than 40 years ago. Gary was a mentor, teacher and a friend to Anthony, which makes this story all the more disturbing to him. As to the allegations that Mr. Edwards made in his post today, I can unequivocally deny them on Gary’s behalf," said spokesman Sam Singer, who responded on behalf of Goddard. "Gary played an important role in helping start Anthony’s acting career and acted as his personal manager. He has nothing but the greatest respect for Anthony as a person. Gary is saddened by the false allegations."

Additional accusers stepped forward in the following days, and both claim that there are more men who could follow suit.

On Nov. 17, Bret Nighman posted his own account on Medium, "Anthony Edwards Is Telling the Truth  —  Gary Goddard Is a Pedophile." He detailed his friendship with Edwards in Santa Barbara (where the two pursued acting) and their childhood experiences with Goddard.

"When we were 15 we toured California in a production of Peter Pan directed by Gary Goddard.... One night while on tour I awoke to find Goddard trying to get into my bed, under my covers and into my underwear. I fought him off and pushed him away," Nighman recalled. "Although it was dark I saw him force his way into Tony’s bed  —  which was about 12 feet from mine. I thought that Tony would push him away too. I lay in my bed with my heart pounding and listened as one of my best friends who I loved got sexually molested."

Nighman, who confirmed his account to The Hollywood Reporter, added that Goddard also attempted to kiss him following the show's final performance in San Diego, and later assaulted him in a car as well as at his home in Sherman Oaks. Nighman's story painted the picture of a man who enjoyed a high profile in the lives of many teenage male actors, which he allegedly exploited. 

"I am telling my story now after reading Anthony Edwards’ story because I am angry and tremendously saddened that Tony was sexually abused by Goddard," Nigman wrote. "I am furious that Goddard has denied Tony’s brave story of sexual abuse. I truly want to support my friend, who I know is telling the truth. Tony has no reason to expose this now in his 50s and accuse Goddard of sexual abuse if it wasn’t true  —  and since I endured it myself, witnessed it myself, I know it is the truth."

Entertainment entrepreneur Mark Driscoll posted his own essay Nov. 22 on Medium, "A Pedophile Among Us," in which he also claimed that he and his friends were abused by Goddard in Santa Barbara. Writes Driscoll: "I read Gary’s statement denying 'the allegations' with disbelief. How could he deny the truth? How could he call Tony a liar? That’s it for me. I cannot allow Gary to continue sweeping his abuses under the carpet. I know of Gary’s abuses firsthand, because Gary too abused me as a young actor, and I know of many others." 

THR reached out to Goddard's rep for a response to the additional accusations, and his rep Singer denied the latest round of accusations. "Mr. Goddard denies all the allegations made against him," Singer says. 

Goddard is credited with the creation and design of leading attractions and experiences at destination resorts, casinos, theme parks and retail outposts, including Jurassic Park: The Ride, Terminator 2/3D: Battle Across Time, Star Trek: The Experience, Jaws and King Kong on the Loose, as well as a long list of Six Flags attractions. Goddard is also known for film work like 1987's Masters of the Universe. 

12:07 p.m.: Updated to include new statement from Goddard's rep.