Leading #MeToo advocate Asia Argento settled an accusation of sexual assault from former child actor and musician Jimmy Bennett for the sum of $380,000 to be paid over the course of a year and a half, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
The claim states that Bennett was a little over 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault, which took place in a California hotel room in 2013 when Argento was 37.
Asia Argento has categorically denied the sexual assault allegations made against her. In a statement obtained by journalist, Yashar Ali, she said, “I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett”.
Asia stated that Bennett made an “exorbitant request” of money from her when he was going through economic problems, and late Anthony Bourdain decided to handle the matter discreetly and with compassion. "Antony [sic] insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negativity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett's demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions into our life”
Italian Actor, singer, model, activist and director Asia Argento was one of the first prominent personalities to come out with accusations of sexual assault against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. Her early claims almost made her the face of the #MeToo movement. Her revelations to the international press garnered a lot of criticism and Argento was at the receiving end of the onslaught of victim-blaming.
The legal age of consent in California is 18. The documents were allegedly sent to The New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party. As part of the agreement, Bennett, who is now 22, surrendered a selfie of him and Argento in bed and its copyright to Argento, now 42. Three people familiar with the case told The New York Times that the documents were authentic.
This is awful, but I don't see any conclusion to draw from it besides "Two things can be true at once." https://t.co/4mi3zQPUmv— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 20, 2018
The lawyer for Argento who handled the settlement, Carrie Goldberg, in the documents described the money as “helping Mr. Bennett”. “We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again. You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among s--y individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses,” Goldberg wrote.
So far @AsiaArgento has declined to comment on these allegations. Still hoping she speaks up. People are going to want to hear what she has to say and how it meshes with her other statements about #metoo. https://t.co/2xuWsSPtSp— jodikantor (@jodikantor) August 20, 2018
According to the documents, Bennett's initial notice of intent to sue was for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.
Argento was one of the 13 women included in the first October 2017 New Yorker report about disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and assault that dated back decades.
Whatever happens in the Asia Argento case doesnt take away from the fact Harvey Weinstein and many powerful men have preyed upon women, abused them, exploited them and have had their sins covered and buried, but now society is waking up and saying no more.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) August 20, 2018
The Times reportedly tried to get a response from Ms. Argento and her representatives but she remained unreachable.
With inputs from IANS.
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