Actor Jonathan Schaech Says He Was Molested By Director Franco Zeffirelli
Actor Jonathan Schaech wrote an op-ed for People magazine saying that acclaimed director Franco Zefferelli harassed and sexually abused him while filming the movie Sparrow. He was 22 years old at the time.
The Ray Donovan actor rose to fame in That Thing You Do! and explained in detail with People what had happened.
“He was trying to seduce me, under the guise of teaching me, from the start,” Jonathan said. “In Rome, he took us to the Vatican, walked us to places where no one could go. We would be on these sets, the most amazing places in Italy, with massive crews, incredible scenery. So I felt blessed, but then Franco would drink, he would drink to extremes, and become very aggressive and abusive. Not just to me – I remember standing up for some of the young girls that he was just mean to. But he had a whole different agenda for me and I felt it.”
“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.”
He continued: “I didn’t scream and yell. I didn’t physically stop him, and it took me 25 years to answer the question why not. 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. When it was obvious Franco wasn’t getting what he wanted that night, he just left. He never tried to touch me again. I told him not to come near me again. He never said anything about it. For the predator who crosses the line they think that it’s OK.”
Read more at People.