Asia Argento accuser speaks out after actor denies allegations
Jimmy Bennett has accused the #MeToo leader of sexually assaulting him in 2013
Jimmy Bennett was 17 at the time of the alleged incident. Photograph: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images
Jimmy Bennett, the 22-year-old actor who accused Asia Argento of sexually assaulting him in 2013, has released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter after Argento denied the allegations on Tuesday.
“I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me,” said Bennett, who claims the alleged incident took place at a southern California hotel in 2013, when Bennett was 17, underage in the state, and Argento was 37.
“My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative.”
In October 2017, Argento, known for roles in xXx and Land of the Dead, accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assaulting her at a Cannes hotel in 1997. After going public with the allegations, she quickly became a leading voice in the #MeToo movement. But earlier this week in the New York Times, it was reported that Argento had arranged to pay $380,000 (€320,000) to her own accuser, who appeared as Argento’s son in her 2004 film The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.
Argento denied the reports in a statement on Tuesday, saying she “never had any sexual relationship with Bennett” and was “deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false”. Argento went on to claim that her late partner, the chef Anthony Bourdain, “insisted the matter be handled privately” and paid Bennett to alleviate what she called his “severe economic problems”.
“We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him,” Argento added. “Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
On Wednesday, TMZ released photos and text messages between Argento and Bennett that appear to contradict her claims that their relationship was not of a sexual nature. In one image, the pair can be seen lying in a bed together topless.
In the text messages, Argento writes: “I had sex with him it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter,” an apparent reference to the notice of intent to sue sent by Bennett’s lawyers to Argento in November. In another text obtained by the site, Argento wrote, “The public knows nothing, only what NYT wrote. Which is one sided. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”
“I was underage when the event took place and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public,” Bennett continued in his statement.
“At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy.
“I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time,” continued Bennett, who in the notice of intent to sue attributed a steep drop in both income and mental health to the trauma he experienced after the alleged incident. “I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.”
The Los Angeles county sheriff’s department has said investigators will seek to talk to Bennett or his representatives about the alleged incident. – Guardian