Asia Argento, an actress who helped amplify the numerous sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, was reportedly accused of sexually assaulting a minor herself, and allegedly paid her accuser hundreds of thousands in hush money.
The New York Times published a report on Sunday citing court documents the paper had received, via encrypted email from an anonymous source, showing that a now 22-year-old actor accused the Italian actress and director of “sexual battery” when he was 17 years old. The email correspondence included a photo of Argento and her accuser taken on the date in question, and the New York Times reportedly spoke to three sources familiar with the situation who verified the authenticity of the documents.
Argento’s accuser, Jimmy Bennett, co-starred with Argento as her young son in the 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” which Argento directed.
The court filings allege that Argento sexually assaulted Bennet during a meeting at her Los Angeles-area hotel room in May 2013. On that day, Bennett was reportedly driven by a family member to meet Argento, who asked the family member to leave to she could spend time alone with the young actor. She allegedly provided Bennett with alcohol, kissed him, performed oral sex, and then climbed on top of him and had intercourse with him.
On the day of their meeting but before Bennett arrived, Argento reportedly posted an Instagram message about looking forward to seeing him.
“Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week,” she wrote, according to the New York Times report.
Through his attorneys, Bennett reportedly sent a letter of intent to sue Argento in November 2017, a month after she contributed to an explosive New Yorker report detailing numerous allegations of sexual assault against mega-producer Harvey Weinstein.
“His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein,” Bennett’s attorney wrote in the letter of intent, which argued that he had suffered a significant loss of income following the alleged sexual assault as a result of the trauma.
In response, Argento reportedly agreed to pay Bennett a total of $380,000, beginning with a lump sum payment of $200,000.
Argento and her attorney did not respond to numerous requests for comment from the New York Times. Bennett’s lawyer gave the newspaper the following statement: “In the coming days, Jimmy will continue doing what he has been doing over the past months and years, focusing on his music.”
Argento had been in a relationship with Anthony Bourdain since late 2016, when they met on the set of his CNN series “Parts Unknown.” Bourdain was a vocal supporter of Argento and the #MeToo movement that addressed the epidemic of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond. Bourdain took his own life in a hotel room in France in June.