Thursday, January 11, 2018

Actor Johnathon Schaech Alleges Director Franco Zeffirelli Sexually Assaulted Him

Written by Shane Smith, Editor, Stonewall Gazette

Actor Johnathon Schaech alleges that famed Italian director Franco Zeffirelli sexually assaulted him while asleep. In 1992, Schaech received a call to audition for the Zeffirelli film, Sparrow. It was during the making of this film that the alleged assault took place.

Johnathon Schaech spoke to People magazine about this traumatic event:
[Then], one night, I think it was when we were at a hotel in Sicily and my costar wasn’t there, he told me he was coming to my room. This time he had managed to get a key. I was in bed sleeping and he let himself into the bedroom and he got beside my bed and was over the top of me on the side of the bed as I awoke. He got in my face. There was a moment where I was telling him “No” and he told me, “We have to.” I remember his breath smelling of Scotch. And this is the whole thing, and you hear it from the women who are opening up now about their own experiences with abuse: There’s a moment where, even though you are taught to be charming and have sex appeal as an actor, a line is crossed and everything changes. When someone crosses that line, when someone preys on you, there’s a panic that sets in. That’s what Franco did. He crossed that boundary and I felt as though I left my body. He molested me in my bed. 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. 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.
Schaech says that the sexual assault affected him deeply. He buried the memory of it for a long time but as the years went on its impact manifested in him negatively which led Schaech to develop alcohol, drug and sexual addiction problems. "I carried this shame all along, I thought it was just part of who I was. I did things I could never imagine myself doing." Schaech added, "That shame manifested itself in so many different ways. I medicated myself so I wouldn’t feel so bad about myself and to try and handle my low self-esteem."

In a statement, Zeffirelli’s son, Pippo, denied his father, now 94, verbally or sexually abused Schaech, calling the accusations “not credible.” His full statement appears below Schaech’s account.

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