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Gary Goddard, accused by Anthony Edwards of sexual assault, takes leave from his company

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2015: Gary Goddard, who is behind the development of S
Gary Goddard is a longtime Hollywood director, producer and screenwriter and the founder of the Goddard Group, a company that designs attractions for theme parks and hotels.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Gary Goddard, the producer and theme park attraction designer, is taking a leave of absence from the company he founded amid allegations that he sexually assaulted minors.

The Goddard Group, a North Hollywood entertainment design company, announced late Monday that Goddard’s duties will be assumed by Taylor Jeffs, the company’s director of design.

Goddard is stepping back to allow the company and its employees to “continue their projects undistracted by recent allegations made against him,” Chief Operating Officer Barry Kemper said in a statement.

Anthony Edwards, a now 55-year-old actor whose television credits include 14 years on “ER,” alleged in an essay published on Medium on Nov. 10 that Goddard molested him before the age of 14 and raped his best friend, whom he did not name. A week later, former actor Bret Douglas Nighman backed Edwards’ account.

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Goddard has denied the allegations.

Goddard is a longtime Hollywood director, producer and screenwriter and the founder of the Goddard Group, a company that designs attractions for theme parks and hotels. He directed 1987’s “Masters of the Universe,” and his most recent credits include director of “Broadway 4D,” a long-stalled musical starring Hugh Jackman and Christina Aguilera.

In the last few years, Goddard’s company has been focusing heavily on projects in Asia and the Middle East, including a resort casino in Macau that features a double Ferris wheel attraction that resembles the number 8.

Last year, a $4-billion theme park project that was designed by the Goddard Group for a location southwest of Moscow got the blessing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Construction was scheduled to be completed within five years.

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Goddard’s leave of absence from the Goddard Group is effective immediately. The company’s statement did not indicate when he might return.

Jeffs has served for more than 14 years as director of design at the Goddard Group, working on international theme parks, museums, retail centers, destination resorts and live entertainment projects. He previously worked for Walt Disney Co.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.


UPDATES:

2 p.m.: This article was updated to mention projects developed by the Goddard Group.

This article was originally published at 8 a.m.


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