Embroiled in her own scandal amid reports that she paid a six-figure settlement to a former child actor, one of Harvey Weinstein’s most outspoken accusers has issued a statement suggesting she had been blackmailed.
According to the New York Post’s Page Six, Asia Argento claimed this week that Jimmy Bennett “made an exorbitant request of money” when he hit hard financial times.
It was her boyfriend, the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who convinced her to offer a settlement to quash the issue, she said.
Journalist Yashar Ali posted a tweet on Tuesday that included the entire statement.
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) August 21, 2018
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news,” Argento wrote.
She went on to call allegations that she molested a 17-year-old Bennett “absolutely false,” insisting that she “never had any sexual relationship” with someone she described as a friend.
Argento wrote that their friendship ended when the spotlight of the #MeToo movement hit her.
“Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect,” she continued.
The actress went on to state that Bourdain suggested the payout would be worth the protection it would provide against damage to their reputation.
“Antony (sic) insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted,” Argento wrote. “Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us.”
The couple opted to “deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him,” she wrote, adding that Bourdain handled the specifics himself.
“Anthony personally understood to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life,” the statement continued.
According to Argento, the latest media claims are evidence of a larger effort to smear her reputation.
“This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution,” she wrote. “I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”
As Variety reported, the recent controversy surrounding the settlement has threatened Argento’s career.
Producers of the talent show “X Factor Italy” confirmed that if the claims were substantiated, they would part ways with Argento, who had been named a judge on the series.
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