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In the midst of the scandal regarding one of the strongest voices of the #MeToo movement, actress Alyssa Milano is defending the cause.
Asia Argento, an Italian actress/director and one of the most vocal celebrities linked to the #MeToo movement, has come under fire following a report from the New York Times alleging that Argento, 41, paid off her own sexual assault accuser. According to documents sent to The Times by an anonymous source, actor/musician Jimmy Bennett, now 22, accused Argento of giving him alcohol and sexually assaulting him in a hotel room in 2013 when he was 17 and she was 37. Argento and Bennett ultimately reached a financial agreement, with Argento agreeing to pay Bennett $380,000, according to The Times. Shortly after the story was published, Argento denied having ever had a sexual relationship with Bennett.
During an interview with “Good Morning America” on Thursday, actress and activist Alyssa Milano, also known for her work with #MeToo, commented on the allegations concerning Argento, and the debate regarding accountability within the movement that the allegations have sparked.
“People who have been abused can also be abusers, and that’s a sad fact,” Milano said. Despite the controversy, however, Milano does not seem to think that the #MeToo movement’s credibility will suffer, explaining, “The fact that people are still coming forward and still holding people accountable for their actions, whether that be a male predator or a female predator, to me, that’s a testament that the movement is working and that there is progress being made.”
Milano, who stated that she’s never met Argento, also challenged the idea of Argento being a leader of the #MeToo movement.
“This is a movement where women and men are standing up against abuses of power and holding people accountable. It’s not like there’s some advisory board,” she said. “I think she’s a voice in which she has told her story in a very public way, but there are a lot of stories like Asia’s.”
Milano expressed similar views in a post on The Wrap on Tuesday, writing, “The fact is, these two truths can exist at once: A victim of assault can also be an offender. It is sad and infuriating to say the least, but one victim’s alleged horrid behavior does not nullify an entire movement.”
In a statement published by The New York Times on Wednesday, Bennett spoke out about his allegations against Argento for the first time, revealing that it was Argento’s visibility within the #MeToo movement that caused his trauma at the hands of Argento to “resurface.”
“I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public,” he said in a statement.
Prior to Bennett’s statement, Argento released one of her own, denying the allegations against her and claiming that her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain helped her come to the decision to reach a financial agreement with Bennett rather than risk public scrutiny.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” Argento’s statement read.
A photo published by TMZ on Wednesday appears to show Argento and Bennett lying together in bed, both seemingly shirtless. The picture appears to be one of the handful of photos The Times referenced in their original report that were allegedly taken immediately following the 2013 sexual assault.
[Photo: Alyssa Milano attends Netflix’s “Insatiable” season one premiere at ArcLight Hollywood on August 9, 2018 in Hollywood, California. By Christopher Polk/Getty Images]