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Zeffirelli's son denies harassment claim (2)

US actor Schaech says molested on set of film in 1993

Zeffirelli's son denies harassment claim (2)

Rome, January 12 - Franco Zeffirelli'son has denied a US TV actor's claim the Oscar-nominated Italian director molested him on the set of his 1993 film 'Storia di una capinera' (The Sparrow). Johnathon Schaech, star of Ray Donovan and Quantico, wrote a personal essay for People saying Zeffirelli "groomed" him and tried to perform oral sex on him. Schaech, then 22 and now 48, said he had never recovered from the trauma and had developed addictions to drugs, alcohol because of it. Zeffirelli, 94, was nominated for an Oscar for his 1968 film Romeo and Juliet. In a statement Thursday, his son Pippo said Schaech's essay contained "untrue claims of abuse" which were motivated by revenge for being dubbed out of the movie, which was based on a classic tale by Giovanni Verga. At the time, he said, the actor suffered from "a throat obstruction that made it hard for him to speak". Pippo Zeffirelli also said he had been "casually" in touuch with Schaech over the last few years "without revealing a trace of his psychological malaise". He said he was "stunned" that the actor had waited so long to make his claims and had made them when his frail and ailing father "can no longer defend himself". Schaech, he said, was seeking the fame that had eluded him in his career to sate.

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