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Model Rain Dove has admitted on social media to selling text messages to entertainment news site TMZ that purportedly show their former friend, Italian actress Asia Argento, addressing accusations that she had sexual contact with a minor.
The story broke last year: Argento, 44, was accused of sexually assaulting actor Jimmy Bennett when he was 17 and she was 37. Argento was among the first to speak out about enduring sexual harassment at the hands of disgraced Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein, and was once considered one of the most vocal leaders of the burgeoning #MeToo movement; as such, the accusations resulted in immense backlash for Argento, which only increased after TMZ published what appeared to be incriminating text messages in which Argento seemingly admitted to having sex with Bennett and saying that it “felt weird.”
Rain Dove, a well-known LGBTQ advocate who uses they/them pronouns, said last year that they handed the text messages over to the authorities because they felt it was “the basic thing one should do.” However, in an hour-long YouTube video published Sunday, titled “EXPOSING MYSELF: Sharing Lies & Secrets,” Dove admitted that TMZ paid them thousands of dollars for the messages.
“When it came to the text messages, with the Asia Argento thing, I sold them to TMZ,” they said. “I asked for advice from my closest friends, some of which are very powerful and wonderful people and very connected in the industry, and they said just do it.”
As for their reasoning, Dove pointed to needing money to afford a lawyer to help them fight any potential libel suits that could have been filed against them, they said. Of the $10,000 they received from TMZ, Dove used 20 percent to hire a publicist to help them maintain their anonymity and 10 percent “or more” was given to “[their] closest friend” in exchange for keeping the funds in their bank account and keeping Dove’s secret, they said. Dove kept the rest of the funds, donating some of it to activists and charitable organizations like RAINN, and using some of the money to pay their rent.
Dove previously denied being responsible for sharing the text messages with TMZ during an interview with the Today Show in August, according to USA Today.
Speaking to NBC News on Monday, Dove said that they went to TMZ after their attempts to turn over the messages to law enforcement officials were unsuccessful. They also reiterated that they accepted the money as a precaution in case they would “need a lawyer to protect” themselves from libel lawsuits, according to the outlet.
Argento, who has retreated from the spotlight following the sexual misconduct allegations, has denied the claims against her, and has said that Bennett was the one who sexually assaulted her.
When contacted by NBC News following the release of Dove’s recent confession video, Argento said that she had not heard Dove admit to selling the text messages before that point. (She also claimed that her former friend edited the texts to make her “appear like a predator,” but Dove denied doing so, according to the network.) Speaking on Dove directly, Argento said that she is “still very fragile and frightened” of Dove and “what they are capable of,” per NBC News' report.
In their bombshell video, Rain Dove also owned up to a number of other false claims they previously made including that they graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and that they previously worked as a firefighter. In the video, Dove said that their desire to come clean was related to wanting to start the new year with a clean slate, but the video was posted two days after the NBC News contacted Dove in an effort to verify the accuracy of a number of claims Dove had made in the past, the network reported.
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