Actor Johnathon Schaech is the latest celebrity to speak out about sexual harassment, claiming director Franco Zeffirelli molested him when he was 22 years old.

The now-48-year-old star admits he’s stayed quiet for 25 years because he felt “crushed,” and says he chose to “bury” the feeling because he didn’t know what else to do.

Schaech opened up to PEOPLE about the alleged abuse, claiming it all started when he got an audition for Zeffirelli’s 1993 movie “Sparrow”.

He said Zeffirelli, whose other works include “Hamlet” (1990), “The Taming of the Shrew” (1967), and “Romeo and Juliet” (1968), flew him to the Cinecitta film studios just outside Rome before he headed for England, where he worked on his English dialect at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Schaech said he found out he was dyslexic while he was there, which just added to the horrific experience. Admitting he “knew” he wasn’t safe from the get-go, the actor claimed the director then came up to his room one night in Sicily.

Johnathon Schaech has accused Franco Zeffirelli of sexual harassment
Johnathon Schaech has accused Franco Zeffirelli of sexual harassment — KEYSTONE

Schaech wrote in the lengthy piece, “This time he had managed to get a key… 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.”

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Schaech went on: “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.”

Admitting he didn’t “scream or yell,” the star continued: “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.”

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Schaech also credited his “Doom Generation” co-star Rose McGowan for helping him realize that this has happened to other people.

Despite the actor’s claims, however, Zeffirelli’s son Pippo told the publication of his now-94-year-old father, “This would be an attack to a great director, an artist and to a man at the end of his life that he is not able, nor he will be in the future able to respond. This will be an incredible damage to his image and reputation on the basis of allegations which are not credible and cannot be proved.”

Pippo Zeffirelli subsequently issued a statement to Associated Press denying Schaech’s allegations, saying the actor’s accusations appear to be “a true and proper vendetta.”

In his statement, the younger Zeffirelli questions why Schaech would wait until his father was in his twilight years, and unable to defend himself, to make his allegations, adding that the actor and his father had maintained “friendly contact over the years,” even calling last month to enquire about the director’s health.