Over the weekend, news broke that Asia Argento, one of the loudest voices in the #MeToo movement, was involved in a cover-up and pay off regarding her alleged sexual misconduct with a then 17-year-old named Jimmy Bennett. It took Argento a few days to respond to the allegations.
She has categorically denied having sex with Bennett in 2013. She did not deny the payoff, but has said that the $380,000 was designed to 'help' the troubled actor and musician and get him to leave her and her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain alone. It appears that Argento and Bourdain orchestrated a cover-up.
This situation has predictably devolved into a he said/she said, blame-the-dead-guy mess. Not helping Argento's case are a series of text messages between her and Bourdain. Let's take a look at those and other developments in this situation. New details, including the Asia Argento Anthony Bourdain texts.
1. The recap
On May 9, 2013, Argento and Bennett met for a reunion in a hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California. Earlier that day she posted on Instagram, "Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmybennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week. Bennett commented on the photo "I'm almost there."
Bennett arrived at Argento's hotel room with a family member. According to the documents, Argento asked the family member to leave so she could be alone with him. She then gave Bennett an alcoholic drink and showed him a number of notes she'd written to him on the hotel's stationary. She kissed him, pushed him onto the bed, took his pants off and performed oral sex. She then climbed on top of him and had sex.
Argento was 37. Bennett was 17. The age of consent in California is 18. Afterward, she took a number of photos of the two of them together. The two had lunch. Afterwards, Bennett headed home to Orange County, California, where he lived with his parents. After Bennett left the hotel, he began to feel "extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted," according to the documents that The New York Times received in an encrypted email. Bennett says the trauma this incident caused affected his ability to work and as a result, his income dropped significantly.
Sometime around November 2017, Argento received a notice of an intent to sue from Bennett's attorney.
2. They gave him a nickname
Argento started texting her boyfriend Anthony Bourdain about the pending allegations against her. They texted back and forth about the situation, which we will get to in a minute. Argento and Bourdain also gave Bennett a nickname. They referred to him as "donkey."
3. The payout
In the undated but verified text messages between Bourdain and Argento, the late Parts Unknown host reassured his Italian girlfriend that a payment to Bennett was “no admission of anything, no attempt to buy a cover up, simply an offer to help an obviously tortured soul whose desperate and trying to jack you for money.” In a follow up text, Bourdain, who committed suicide in June, added “you just tell him to f**k himself. Either way, I am with you.”
4. Buying silence?
Bourdain continued to text Argento about Bennett and the allegations against Argento. In one, he appeared to be responding to Argento's concerns about how she felt disingenuous for paying what basically amounts to hush money to her accuser when she was so incredibly vocal and involved in bringing producer Harvey
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