Less than a week after an explosive New York Times report claimed that Asia Argento paid off an actor who’d accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was underage, a suggestive photo of the two has surfaced online.
TMZ published a photo on Wednesday that appears to show Argento and Bennett lying in bed together. Only their faces and shoulders are visible, but it appears that neither is wearing a shirt, and their heads are close together. According to TMZ, the photo is one of four that the pair took together after the alleged sexual assault in a hotel room in 2013.
The Times’ report claimed that the Italian actress/director and #MeToo activist reached a financial agreement earlier this year with Jimmy Bennett, 22, after Bennett accused Argento of sexually assaulting him in a California hotel room in 2013, mere months after his 17th birthday. The legal age of consent in California is 18.
In addition to legal documents concerning the case, an anonymous source also sent the Times incriminating photos of Argento and Bennett together, one of which reportedly showed the couple lying together in bed. As part of the financial agreement, the Times reported, Bennett gave the photo and its copyright to Argento.
Days after the Times’ story was published, Argento denied ever having a sexual relationship with Bennett and implied that his claims were an extortion attempt. She further claimed that it was partly her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain’s decision to acquiesce to Bennett’s financial demands last year, in an effort to avoid any further controversy.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” her statement read.
Bennett approached Argento with his allegations in the months after Argento claimed that film executive Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted her. According to the notice of intent to sue written by Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, and obtained by The Times, it was Argento’s growing visibility as a key leader of the #MeToo movement that caused Bennett’s conflicted feelings on the 2013 incident to resurface.
Argento and Bennett, a former child actor that worked with Argento on one of her films, had known each other for years, and even referred to each other as mother and son on social media.
[Photo: Asia Argento attends the “Ismael’s Ghosts” screening and Opening Gala during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2017 in Cannes, France. By Dominique Charriau/WireImage, via Getty Images]