A recent New York Times expose is reporting actress Asia Argento, a #MeToo activist, paid off a co-star who accused her of sexual assault.
The Times received legal documents that were given to them in an encrypted email by an unidentified party, and have been verified as authentic by three people familiar with the allegations. These said documents claim that the lawyer of Argento's former co-star, Jimmy Bennett, sent a notice of intent to sue the actress for allegedly sexually assaulting the actor in a California hotel room several years earlier when he was 17 and she was 37. The age of consent in California is 18.
According to the docs, Argento settled the suit and paid Bennett $380,000.
Bennett, who is now 22, previously played the son of Argento’s character in the 2004 film, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. “Jimmy’s impression of this situation was that a mother-son relationship had blossomed from their experience on set together," reads the documents.
The documents contain allegations that Argento was alone with Bennett in the hotel room and gave him alcohol before kissing him, pushing him on the bed and performing oral sex. The two allegedly later had sex, and afterwards, Argento asked Bennett to take a number of photos.
Bennett's lawyer claims in the docs that the sexual assault was so traumatic that it affected his client's mental health and his acting career.
The day of the alleged incident, Argento posted a photo with Bennett to Instagram, writing, “Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox. Jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack.”
Argento, 42, did not respond to the Times’ request for comment on the matter, and has yet to speak out regarding the allegations.
Her friend and fellow activist, Rose McGowan, took to Twitter on Monday morning to respond. “I got to know Asia Argento 10 months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein," she tweeted. "My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere."
Argento was the girlfriend of Anthony Bourdain, who died in June. According to the Times, Bourdain's lawyer, Richard Hofstetter, was representing Argento in this case.
Argento publicly accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in a New Yorker expose that was published in October, just prior to Bennett allegedly accusing her of sexual assault. Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women. Argento is not one of these three women as Weinstein has claimed that their encounters were consensual.
Weinstein's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, commented on The New York Times report on Argento in a statement to ET on Monday.
"This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein," the statement reads. "What is perhaps most egregious, is the timing, which suggests that at the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years.The sheer duplicity of her conduct is quite extraordinary and should demonstrate to everyone how poorly the allegations against Mr. Weinstein were actually vetted and accordingly, cause all of us to pause and allow due process to prevail, not condemnation by fundamental dishonesty."
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