As the wave of sexual harassment accusations against Hollywood elite rolls on, it’s become harder and harder to be shocked by the severity of new allegations. But Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times revealed what could be the most disturbing claims yet, against former theater director, Hollywood producer, and Disney “Imagineer,” Gary Goddard.
According to the LA Times, Goddard now stands accused of molesting and sexually abusing more than eight young men, including veteran actor Anthony Edwards, while Goddard served as the theater director for a young men’s troupe in Santa Barbara.
“This is a man who’s attracted to little boys, and attracted in the sickest way,” Edwards told the paper. “This is not love, this is not friendship what he was doing. It is a horror because it is manipulating young hearts and minds.”
The young men said Goddard sold himself to them as a mentor and friend, and invited them to join his prestigious theater group, where he molded a number of actors who went on to big- and small-screen success. But working with Goddard had a price. If you were caught alone in a car with Goddard, or slept nearest to him on one of the troupe’s frequent visits to perform in other cities, you could expect Goddard’s wandering hand.
“I knew I would have to experience things I didn’t want to,” one victim told the Times, also claiming that he feared the days his “mentor” would visit the troupe’s rehearsals.
Others, including Edwards, said that Goddard would go out of his way to separate kids from parents and adult chaperones on tour, so that he could interact with the boys. One victim described having to physically “force” Goddard out of his bed while on tour with a production of “Peter Pan,” only to see Goddard simply enter another boy’s bed.
Parents became concerned about Goddard’s behavior, and brought a complaint to the California Youth Theatre, but the then-executive director brushed it off, telling the parents to bring him “evidence” of Goddard’s molestation or pipe down.
There are more allegations, too, beyond the eight members of Goddard’s theater troupe. Several men who entered and exited Goddard’s orbit around the same time he was allegedly molesting Edwards, say they had isolated incidents with the producer.
One of the men alleged that Goddard molested him during a stop on the “Peter Pan” tour, by unzipping his sleeping bag and fondling him. Another alleged that Goddard masturbated him on a drive home from Disneyland. A third former student alleged several years of “surprise attacks” involving “aggressive kissing” and groping by Goddard, including an episode of fondling in a dark ride at Disneyland. A fourth man said that on overnight visits as a teenager to Florida — where Goddard was directing stage shows for Disney World — and Los Angeles, Goddard had him sleep in the same bed as him and masturbated him.
Goddard disputes the allegations, telling the Times through his publicist that Edwards and others are operating on “innuendo and hearsay,” and that Goddard can’t “prove a negative.”
“If it were possible to prove a negative, Mr. Goddard would debate these 40-year-old allegations,” his PR director told the Times. As it stands he categorically denies them.