Italian actress, director, and #MeToo activist Asia Argento, reportedly paid off a young actor after he accused her of sexual assault.
According to a new report from The New York Times, Argento, 42, paid actor/musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000 last year following Bennett’s claims that Argento sexually assaulted him in a hotel room in California in 2013, two months after Bennett turned 17. Argento was 37 at the time. In California, the legal age of consent is 18.
While Bennett initially visited Argento’s hotel room that day with a family member, Argento later asked Bennett’s companion to leave so that she could be alone with him, according to documents obtained by The Times. Bennett claimed that Argento then gave him alcohol and showed him notes she had written to him before kissing him, performing oral sex on him, and then having intercourse with him.
Bennett portrayed the son of Argento’s character in the 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” a project Argento starred in and directed. The incident had a profound effect on Bennett, now 22, and negatively impacted both his work and mental health, according to a notice of intent to sue that Bennet’s lawyer sent in November and that was later obtained by The Times. An anonymous source sent the damning legal documents to The Times — including a 2013 photo that shows Bennett and Argento lying in bed together — and they were reportedly verified by three people familiar with the case.
Argento reached a settlement with Bennett months after her accusations against disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein went public in an explosive report from The New York Times. Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, claimed in the notice of intent to sue that Argento was both a mother figure and a mentor to Bennett, and that Argento’s positioning as a face of the #MeToo movement triggered Bennett’s complicated feelings on what occurred in 2013.
Over the years, Argento and Bennett reportedly referred to each other on social media as mother and son — including on the day of the 2013 alleged assault, when Argento wrote on Instagram that she was “waiting for my long lost son my love [Jimmy Bennett].”
Argento has not responded to the The Times’ request for comment.
Fellow activist Rose McGowan, who also came forward with sexual assault allegations against Weinstein last year, reacted to the accusations against Argento on Twitter, writing, “I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.”
She added, “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.”
[Photo: Asia Argento attends the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. By Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic, via Getty Images]