Franco Zeffirelli’s Son Dismisses Actor Johnathon Schaech’s Molestation Accusation: ‘Not Credible’

Star said Oscar-nominated director had sexually abused him during production on the 1993 movie “Sparrow”

Last Updated: January 11, 2018 @ 5:47 PM

The son of Franco Zeffirelli has stepped forward to defend his father after actor Johnathon Schaech wrote in People on Thursday that the celebrated Italian director “molested” him during production of the 1993 movie “Sparrow.”

“All these allegations are not credible,” Pippo Zeffirelli said in a statement on behalf of his father, who is 94. “My father is in poor health and not able to understand this attack and to respond to the allegations. … This will be an incredible damage to his image and reputation on the basis of allegations which are not credible and cannot be proved.

Schaech, whose credits include films like “That Thing You Do!” and “Hush” and recurring roles in TV shows like “Ray Donovan” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” wrote a detailed personal essay in People in which he said Zeffirelli verbally and sexually assaulted him during production on his first feature film.

“He would tell me how wonderful and beautiful I was, told me incredible stories and what I needed to do to really be a real artist,” wrote Schaech, who was 22 when he appeared in “Sparrow” and is now 48. “He was trying to seduce me, under the guise of teaching me, from the start.”

One night during the shoot, Schaech said Zeffirelli attempted to perform oral sex on him. “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 wrote.

Schaech wrote that the director went no further. “When it was obvious Franco wasn’t getting what he wanted that night, he just left,” he wrote. “He never tried to touch me again. I told him not to come near me again. He never said anything about it.”

Schaech said he has lived with the trauma of his encounter for decades but felt emboldened to speak out after the downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the rise of the #MeToo movement led in part by his co-star in the 1995 indie “The Doom Generation,” Rose McGowan.