Three supporters of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre have started a fund to defray the legal costs of the three employees on administrative leave.
"We believe they need good lawyers, and good lawyers cost a lot of money," founder Mac Clayton said.
Director Pat Briggs, Costume Supervisor Alison Williams and Program Assistant Rich Curtis were placed on paid leave Jan. 24 when the Palo Alto Police Department announced it was conducting a "financial crimes" investigation of the theater.
Assistant Director Michael Litfin, who was also placed on leave, has since died.
No one has been formally accused of a crime.
"Our fervent hope is for our friends' names and reputations to be cleared and for them to return to the invaluable work they do for our children and our community," Clayton and co-founders Suzie Stewart and Beth Broderson wrote on the fund's Web site.
Clayton said the group hopes to raise a "substantial sum" of "tens of thousands of dollars."
"(The fund) just coalesced out of the broad concern for Pat and Alison and Rich," he said.
He said the three founders plan to reach out to community members to attract contributions. The fund started with donations from the founders and Clayton's son, Nicholas, 15, a Children's Theatre regular, who pitched in $20.
Information is available and donations are accepted at http://www.childrenstheaterdefensefund.com . Checks can also be sent to 1314 Parkinson Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301.