Johnathon Schaech accuses director Franco Zeffirelli of sexual assault
The Ray Donovan actor is speaking up about the alleged abuse he suffered at the hands of the famous Italian director.
In an essay published by People on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, Johnathon Schaech accused Franco Zeffirelli, who he'd worked with on the 1993 film Sparrow, of abuse. "He was trying to seduce me, under the guise of teaching me, from the start," Schaech wrote, adding that Zeffirelli, during production, would attempt to enter his hotel room at night.
"But I kept it locked," Schaech explained. "I would literally put stuff, chairs and things, in front of it."2018 Critics' Choice Awards: the complete list of nominees and winners
Schaech also stated that Zeffirelli, who he said became aggressive after he drank, would often become "verbally abusive." He recalled, "It got to the point where he made me feel like I couldn't act, I couldn't do anything right, I couldn't speak right, I couldn't move right — everything I did was wrong. So I felt beaten down."
One night, Schaech stated, Zeffirelli visited his room, but, this time, he had a key. Schaech recounted waking up to see the director's face over his. He then described how Zeffirelli allegedly molested him. "He put his hands in places that I couldn't even imagine and he did things that I am not proud of. But it's not my fault. His pants never came off but I can [still] see him fumbling with his belt. He attempted to give me oral sex," Schaech wrote. "I just remember being like, 'God, please no. I'm OK, I'm OK.' I did nothing. I just lay there in bed. It felt like 4 hours but it was probably like 30 seconds."
According to Schaech, Zeffirelli later left the room and never touched him again.Harvey Weinstein reportedly faces sex trafficking lawsuit
Schaech, however, was understandably scarred by the experience. "In the moment, I don't remember thinking, 'Oh no, my career, I have to do this.' [Instead] I felt like it was a rite of passage, like I had to do it in a sense," said Schaech, who was reportedly inspired to come forward after Rose McGowan accused producer Harvey Weinstein of rape. "I was vulnerable. I didn't scream and yell. I didn't physically stop him, and it took me 25 years to answer the question why not."
He explained, "There's a moment when someone is being violated by a predator where it is a clear form of violence that creates trauma in the body. We have a fight or flight response. People say they 'leave their bodies' and that's what I did."
The experience, Schaech said, caused him to develop "major alcohol and drug problems" and "sexual addictions."First Star Wars reviews are in
In response to Schaech's allegations, Zeffirelli's son, Pippo, has denied all claims. "It is alleged that 25 years ago an actor, who was then in his early twenties, was the victim of alleged verbal abuse and alleged attempted sexual abuse by my father during the filming of The Sparrow in Sicily, Italy. [He] would have been 70 at the time. It is also alleged that my father drank alcohol and may have been drunk on set. Mr. Zeffirelli and all our family were living in a villa, whilst actors, production and staff were staying in a hotel in Catania; all these allegations are not credible," he stated.
Unfortunately, Zeffirelli isn't the only man in the entertainment business to have been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in recent months. Men like Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and Dustin Hoffman have all faced disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct since the Weinstein scandal broke in October 2017.