Asia Argento, one of the leading accusers of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, is now facing allegations that she paid off an underage actor who claims Argento sexually assaulted him when he was 17.
The claim by actor Jimmy Bennett and the $380,000 paid to settle it are outlined in court documents, according to The New York Times, which first published a report about the settlement.
In October, Argento accused Weinstein of raping her in 1997, when she was 21. Similar accusations of sexual misconduct by other women led to the explosion of the #MeToo movement, which Argento has continued to champion, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In response to the news that Argento was settling her own sexual assault accusation, actress Rose McGowan, a leader in the #MeToo movement, issued a statement.
“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 said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) August 20, 2018
The Times report said Bennett claimed that Argento sexually assaulted him in a California hotel when he was 17. Argento had met Bennett while making “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” a movie Argento co-wrote, directed and starred in, according to The Times. In the movie, Argento played a prostitute. Bennett played her son.
Bennett’s lawyers sent a notice of intent to sue Argento, claiming that the sexual assault impacted Bennett’s mental health and hurt his acting career. The initial notice of claim came only weeks after Argento publicly accused Weinstein of rape, according to The Times.
The Times reported that neither Argento or Bennett would speak to the paper on the record about the settlement.
Asia Argento wrote & directed a movie where she was a prostitute, 7-year old Jimmy Bennett played her son, whom her character forced to crossdress and was raped as a result.
A decade later Argento allegedly rapes Bennett while he’s underage, fetishizing him as her son.
— John Durant (@johndurant) August 20, 2018
The Times did publish part of a letter from lawyer Carrie Goldberg to Argento that confirmed the details of the settlement.
“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg wrote, according to The Times. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among s—ty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”
Goldberg noted that the settlement did not include a non-disclosure agreement.
“Ultimately, you decided against the non-disclosure language because you felt it was inconsistent with the public messages you’ve conveyed about the societal perils of non-disclosure agreements,” she wrote.
“Bennett could theoretically tell people his claims against you,” she wrote. “However, under this agreement, he cannot sue you for them. Nor can he post the photo of the two of you.”
“At the very least, he is not permitted to bother you for more money, disparage you or sue — so long as you comply with your obligations in the agreement,” she wrote.
The Times said Bennett’s initial notice of claim asked for $3.5 million.
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