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Actor Anthony Edwards just accused Gary Goddard, founder and CEO of entertainment design firm The Goddard Group, of sexually molesting him in an explosive essay.

After meeting Goddard when he was just 12 years old, the actor recalls his mother asking him about rumors she had heard about Goddard being a “pedophile,” but he “denied it through tears of complete panic.”

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“To face that truth was not an option as my sense of self was completely enmeshed in my gang of five friends who were all led by this sick father figure,” Edwards said. “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.”

He then explained that many children who are victims of sexual abuse often feel “deeply responsible” as if it’s their fault. Their abusers kept control over them through manipulation and disguising their “horrific actions” as “love,” which results in “deep and unforgivable” emotional damage.

“Only after I was able to separate my experience, process it, and put it in its place could I accept this truth: My abuse may always be with me, but it does not own me,” Edwards continued. “For far too many years, I held onto the idea that love was conditional — and so I would look for someone or something other than my higher self to define those conditions and requirements for me.”

22 years ago, the actor ran into Goddard and expressed his outrage at what the man had done. At the time, Goddard appeared remorseful, but years later his name surfaced in the media connected to another alleged sexual assault, refueling Edwards’ rage. After more therapy, he was finally able to “have the conversation that I wish I could have had with my mom when I was 14.”

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“I’ve learned that I’m not alone,” he said before calling on society to do what it can to help:

Secrecy, shame and fear are the tools of abuse, and it is only by breaking the stigma of childhood sexual abuse that we can heal, change attitudes, and create safer environments for our children. Right now, there are children and adults who want to talk. Right now, there are people who have witnessed this kind of abuse but don’t know how to help. Right now, there are millions of victims who believe that the abuse they experienced was somehow their fault. There are millions of children in our country who are one conversation away from being heard. Just as there are millions of adult men who are one step away from healing. I did not go from being a victim to a survivor alone. No one does. I had to ask for help, and I am so grateful that I did.

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