Ever since her accusations of being raped by disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein went public last fall, Asia Argento has been one of the most prominent faces of the #MeToo movement. On Sunday, however, the Italian actress and director was the subject of her own New York Times investigation, with the paper reporting that she paid actor and musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he accused her of sexual assault. Bennett, now 22, was 17 and below the legal age of consent at the time of the alleged 2013 incident.
The Times reports that Bennett, who was 7 years old when he was cast as Argento’s son in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, reportedly pursued legal action after his former co-star emerged as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault following her revelations about Weinstein.
Documents obtained by the Times allege that the former child star met with Argento in a California hotel room on May 9, 2013, where he says she performed oral sex on him before initiating intercourse. Bennett said the incident, which took place three months after his 17th birthday, left him feeling “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted.”
His legal team reportedly sought $3.5 million for “intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault, and battery,” though it appears that a settlement of $380,000 was agreed upon. A letter addressed to Argento from her lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, in April acknowledges the payment and refers to “s***ty individuals who’ve preyed” on her.
“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg is said to have written to the 42-year-old Argento. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among s***ty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”
While neither Bennett nor Argento and her legal team have publicly responded to the allegations, social media shows that they did in fact meet on May 9, 2013. Argento, who was the girlfriend of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain until his death by suicide in June, posted several Instagram photos at their reunion, calling it the “happiest day of my life.” She also referred to Bennett as “my son, my love until I live.” In one caption, she thanks Bennett for the “sunshine you gave to me.”
The photos have been flooded with comments attacking Argento since the Times report broke Sunday night.
A post shared by asiaargento (@asiaargento) on May 9, 2013 at 1:10pm PDT
A post shared by asiaargento (@asiaargento) on May 9, 2013 at 1:08pm PDT
A post shared by asiaargento (@asiaargento) on May 9, 2013 at 2:29pm PDT
Meanwhile, the accusations against Argento have sparked major controversy, with some blasting her as a hypocrite and others arguing that her own history shouldn’t be used to discount #MeToo or her alleged experience with Weinstein.
Whatever happens in the Asia Argento case doesnt take away from the fact Harvey Weinstein and many powerful men have preyed upon women, abused them, exploited them and have had their sins covered and buried, but now society is waking up and saying no more.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) August 20, 2018
There are two types of dudebros: those who will mock Jimmy Bennett for being sexually-assaulted by Asia Argento ("why didn't he enjoy it?") and those who will use this to erroneously claim feminists are hypocrites.
However, they both share a violent misogyny.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 20, 2018
This is awful, but I don't see any conclusion to draw from it besides "Two things can be true at once." https://t.co/4mi3zQPUmv
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 20, 2018
Actress Rose McGowan, another Weinstein accuser who had befriended Argento after their stories went public, has also addressed the report.
I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) August 20, 2018
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