The Italian actress has released a lengthy statement through her lawyers that claims she was the victim of a 'sexual attack'
06 Septiembre 2018 16:27
Asia Argento, a leading voice in the #MeToo movement who is now herself facing accusations of sexual assault, has released a new statement through her lawyer that says she was the victim of a ‘sexual attack’ involving her former co-star, Jimmy Bennett.
The pair have been in the headlines over the past few weeks after the New York Times reported that Argento had arranged to pay Bennett $380,000 to stave off a potential lawsuit over his claim that Argento gave him alcohol and had sex with him in May 2013, when he was 17 and a minor according to California law.
Argento’s new attorney, Mark Jay Heller, has hit back at the sexual assault allegation by claiming that it was his client who was the victim of the sexual encounter. In a statement, Heller claims the Italian actress did not initiate the encounter. Instead, Argento became ‘frozen’ when Bennett allegedly climbed on top of her, and she ‘chose at the time not to prosecute’.
It also goes on to claim that Argento ‘will not permit any portion of the balance’ left from the settlement agreement between her and Bennett to be paid ‘for this falsely alleged incident’. According to Heller, Argento had been the sexual fantasy of Bennett since he was 12 years old.
The situation is complex with many strands. Argento initially denied that she had any sexual contact with Bennett after The Times shared details of the financial settlement arranged between the lawyer for the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Argento’s boyfriend at the time, and Bennett’s lawyer.
Although Argento admitted to the secret payoff, she claimed that the payment was funded by Bourdain as a way of mitigating any bad press at the time, but that the sexual encounter was ‘absolutely false’.
But in late August, model Rain Dove, who has been romantically involved with Argento’s fellow Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, provided the NYPD with text messages allegedly from Argento in which she admitted, 'I had sex with him it felt weird...the horny kid jumped me.'
Heller’s 1,400-word statement speaks of Argento 'launching' some new #MeToo features. ‘This is Phase Two of the #metoo movement. A victim who has some negative history should have the courage to come forward and say “me too, I was a victim of sexual assault” and whatever might color my past does not negate the truth of what happened to me,’ the statement reads.
‘Asia believes that in Phase Two of the #metoo movement, everyone should come forward, tell their story regardless of their past, which in Asia’s circumstances constitutes a misunderstood interaction between her and Bennett that was initiated by Bennett, perpetrated upon Asia, and resulted in her “freezing” and being placed in a “state of shock.”’
The Times’ first report included Bennett's account of the incident as the following: He arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey to meet Argento in her hotel room on May 10, 2013, with a family member.
Argento asked to be alone with Bennett and the family member left. Bennett claims Argento gave him alcohol and also showed him notes she had made on hotel stationery. She then proceeded to kiss him and perform oral sex, before having intercourse with him, the legal documents claim.
Argento then asked to take a number of photos with him. Photos of Argento and Bennett semi-clothed in bed, as well as an Instagram post of their faces taken on that day, were included in the notice of intent to sue, The Times reported.
Bennett's lawyers claim that Argento presenting herself as a victim of sexual assault as well as taking a prominent role in the #MeToo movement triggered traumatic memories of his own assault.