Santa Barbara- S County

Santa Barbara theater insider reflects on decades-old sexual molestation accusations

Rod Lathim: 'There certainly are others'

Santa Barbara theater insider...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The momentum of public firings over inappropriate behavior and sexual assault allegations has Tinseltown watching the demise of Hollywood producer Gary Goddard.

Recent, multiple accusations of sexual assault against Goddard, a Santa Barbara native, stem from decades ago and have ties to Santa Barbara.

The Goddard Group announced Monday that Goddard, the head of the North Hollywood entertainment design company, has taken leave. 

The announcement came nearly three weeks after ER actor Anthony Edwards came forward and publicly accused Goddard of molesting him when he was a young teen in Santa Barbara. Within a matter of days, two more men came forward: Bret Nighman and Mark Driscoll. Both grew up in Santa Barbara and like Edwards, were actively involved in youth theater at Santa Barbara Junior High School (SBJHS), where Goddard mentored the students in stage work and design.

Rod Lathim, a major force in Santa Barbara's theater culture and SBJHS alum, told NewsChannel 3 that there are "others." 

"I had learned after the fact that things had gone on," Lathim said.

Lathim said he considers Edwards a good friend and keeps in touch with the others as well. He called the bond among the SBJHS theater group he was involved with at the time, more than 40 years ago, "strong" and considered those years "magical." 

"It just makes my stomach and heart ache that my friends were having to stuff this pain in the midst of all this joy and incredible learning and growth," Lathim said. 

Lathim, the Founding Board President of Marjorie Luke Theatre, reflected on his memory of Goddard.

"He was an amazing artist that we looked up to, we admired," Lathim said. "We wanted to be with and work with because we learned so much from him. I can only say that I hope that he realizes the impact that his actions have had on a number of people's lives and hope he takes the right steps to somehow remedy that." 

Lathim was instrumental in renovating the theater at SBJHS and said Edwards was the one who came up with the name, Marjorie Luke Theatre, in honor of their beloved teacher, Marj Luke. 

Lathim said his main focus and concern now is seeing his childhood friends get the love and support they need -- and to finally be at peace. 

"We need to give them our fullest support and love," Lathim said. "And let them know we're here for them." 

Lathim also admitted that there are others (victims) who haven't yet spoken up.

"It's always been up to those people to speak about it, only the people that had the experiences, not for others like me," Lathim said. "I know, again through conversations and over the years, there certainly are others."

Lathim said if there is a "lesson to be learned" in all of this, it is to be extra cautious trusting people with your children, "particularly the young" ones.

NewsChannel 3 reached out to the Goddard Group and Asbury Communications for a statement but neither has returned our calls.


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