Nearly one month after Rose McGowan claimed that Asia Argento admitted to having a sexual relationship with her accuser, Argento has demanded that McGowan retract her statement – and apologize — or else face legal repercussions.
Argento took to Twitter on Monday to issue an ultimatum and accuse McGowan, her former ally within the #MeToo movement, of sharing “horrendous lies.”
“Dear @RoseMcGowan. It is with genuine regret that I am giving you 24 hours to retract and apologise for the horrendous lies made against me in your statement of August 27th,” her tweet reads. “If you fail to address this libel I will have no option other than to take immediate legal action.”
Argento has been at the center of controversy since the publication of a New York Times report alleging that she reached a financial agreement with 22-year-old actor and musician Jimmy Bennett after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in a hotel room when he was 17 years old. Argento has denied the accusations on numerous occasions, and suggested that it was partly her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain’s decision to agree to pay Bennett rather than risk controversy.
The accusations against Argento sparked furious debate regarding the #MeToo movement and accountability among its most vocal supporters — including Argento and McGowan, both of whom became prominent figures within the movement after coming forward with sexual misconduct allegations against former film exec Harvey Weinstein. McGowan faced backlash after initially calling for others to “be gentle” with Argento before later changing her tune.
In a lengthy statement published on Aug. 27, McGowan claimed that her partner, Rain Dove, had text message conversations with Argento, during which she allegedly admitted not only to sleeping with Bennett, but also stated that Bennett had been sending her unsolicited nude photos of himself from the age of 12. McGowan’s statement also claimed that Argento did not tell Bennett to stop sending the photos, and did not report what was happening to the authorities or even his parents.
“It’s sad to lose a friend connection, but what’s even more sad is what happened to Jimmy Bennett,” McGowan’s statement reads. “Whether or not the extortion case is true — it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. It is the type of thing I fight against alongside so many.”
Rain Dove later confirmed the authenticity of text messages published by TMZ that show Argento discussing the situation. One text purportedly sent by Argento read, “I had sex with him it felt weird.”
Alongside the texts, TMZ also published a photo of Argento and Bennett lying shirtless in bed together, and claimed that the photo was taken the day of the alleged assault.
In a new statement published earlier this month, Argento claimed that she was the one who was sexually assaulted during her 2013 encounter with Bennett, rather than the other way around, but opted not to prosecute him.
[Photo: Asia Argento and Rose McGowan take part in a march organized by the #MeToo movement on March 8, 2018 as part of the International Women’s Day in Rome. By Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images]