An attorney for Jimmy Bennett said he is “disgusted” by the “misrepresentations and mischaracterizations” made by Asia Argento’s lawyer, who claimed the actress was the victim of sexual assault — not the young actor.
In a lengthy post Wednesday, Argento’s attorney disputed allegations that Argento had sexually assaulted the then-17-year-old actor in a 2013 hotel room encounter, claiming that Bennett had forced himself on the actress. Argento’s partner, Anthony Bourdain, quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to the accuser.
Bennett’s attorney, Gordono K. Sattro, responded with a statement calling these allegations “slanderous” and “offensive,” and designed to silence Argento’s accuser.
“Asia’s attacks on my client’s character have no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013, and the statements in her most recent letter are seemingly crafted with the intent to intimidate, shame, and insult our client back into silence,” Sattro wrote. “This is a familiar tactic which has been criticized by the #MeToo movement repeatedly over the past year. In Hollywood, the one thing that has never and will never be condoned, or tolerated, is the abuse of child actors. ”
The New York Times initially reported that the Italian actress, who was among the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, had plied the teenager with alcohol and had sex in an encounter Bennett described as so traumatic it hindered his ability to work and caused emotional distress.
After the Weinstein revelations were became public last October, the Times reported that an agreement was struck with Argento’s accuser.
Argento’s lawyer said reports of the settlement create the false impression Argento was trying to cover something up, when the agreement with Bennett doesn’t preclude him from making statements or pursuing a criminal complaint. Bourdain opted to make the payments, the lawyer argued, to protect Argento’s reputation and avoid scandal.
“Asia was completely against this approach because she had done nothing wrong and especially since the incident was initiated and perpetrated by Bennett against her, but she respected Anthony’s choice to avoid the potential intrusion into their relationship and the negative impact it might have against Bourdain and his high profile position in the media community,” Argento’s attorney Mark Heller wrote.
Since Bourdain’s death makes his concerns about reputation mute, Heller said that Argento will not be paying the balance owed to Bennett (beyond the $250,000 he’s already received). Argento called for a Phase Two of the #MeToo movement, in which victims step forward “whether or not they have led a blemish-less life.”
“Asia believes that in Phase Two of the #metoo movement, everyone should come forward, tell their story regardless of their past, which in Asia’s circumstances constitutes a misunderstood interaction between her and Bennett that was initiated by Bennett, perpetrated upon Asia,” Heller wrote.
Bennett’s lawyer called Argento’s account “ludicrous.”
“Asia has yet to realize that successful women can also be among those who prey on the vulnerable. Predators are not limited to a single sex,” wrote Sattro.
Here’s attorney Gordono K. Sattro’s statement on behalf of Jimmy Bennett, furnished to Rolling Stone:
This situation has escalated due to Asia’s offensive and dismissive interpretation of this situation in whole. After reviewing the letter from Asia’s THIRD attorney, I am shocked, appalled, and disgusted by their representations, mischaracterizations, and attacks. If I were to sum up the letter from Asia and her attorney in a single word it would be “hypocritical,” with a close second being “non-sensical.”
We read this statement as a self-serving and slanderous one which is offensive, not only to my client, but in all likelihood to victims both silent and outspoken, everywhere. It would seem that Asia is implying that her truth is the actual truth because of her perceived position in this all too important movement and a delusional view of her own importance to it.
Representing Asia as launching Phase Two of the #MeToo movement where “a victim who has some negative history should have the courage to come forward and say ‘me too, I was a victim of sexual assault’ and whatever might color my past does not negate the truth of what happened to me,” while victim-shaming my client in the same statement is ludicrous in the highest regard. Asia has yet to realize that successful women can also be among those who prey on the vulnerable. Predators are not limited to a single sex.
It should be made clear that Asia’s attacks on my client’s character have no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013, and the statements in her most recent letter are seemingly crafted with the intent to intimidate, shame, and insult our client back into silence. This is a familiar tactic which has been criticized by the #MeToo movement repeatedly over the past year. In Hollywood, the one thing that has never and will never be condoned, or tolerated, is the abuse of child actors.