UPDATE: Aug. 21, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Argento Says She Never Had a Sexual Relationship with Bennett
The New York Times stands by its report.
In a statement distributed by her Italian lawyer, Asia Argento claims she and her then boyfriend Anthony Bourdain decided to answer Jimmy Bennett’s plea for financial help on the condition that Bennett would no longer intrude on their lives. She said that she and Bennett were only friends.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” Argento said.
She included that it was an “exorbitant request of money” (reportedly $3.5 million) to her following her exposure following the Weinstein accusations.
Bennett’s attorney Gordon K. Sattro said asked for the media to “our client some time and space. Jimmy is going to take the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response. We ask that you respect our client’s privacy during this time.”
The Times reported they received the documents “through encrypted email by an unidentified party,” and that they included “a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed.”
A spokesperson for The New York Times told Reuters: “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources.”
Asia Argento, a prominent #MeToo movement figure that assisted in the take down of Harvey Weinstein, has come under fire for her own past alleged sex scandal, with a male actor who was 17-years-old at the time (Argento was 37).
Jimmy Bennett, now age 22, said that Argento, who was like a mother figure to him, got him drunk five years ago and engaged in sexual acts with him. She reportedly paid Bennett $380,000 when he reached out to her regarding his mental health struggles and financial wellbeing.
It is reported that Anthony Bourdain, famed chef and TV host who took his own life in June, helped Argento broker the payment deal with the victim.
Argento and Bennett had starred in a 2004 movie, when Bennett was age 8, called “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.” Argento played his mother.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said that this “reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein.”
#MeToo leaders and supporters have spoken up saying Argento’s actions will not dampen the cause.
Tarana Burke, founder of the movement, said on Twitter: “There is no model survivor. We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior.”
#MeToo MVMT reports that upwards of 18 million women have reported a sexual assault since 1998. But it’s not just about women. Burke says in a video on her website, it’s about victims and communities that need healing.
She continues, “the #MeTooMVMT is for all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward. It will continue to be jarring when we hear the names of some of our faves connected to sexual violence unless we shift from talking about individuals…and begin to talk about power. Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender.”
National Center For PTSD says that like women, men who experience sexual assault may suffer from depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other emotional problems as a result, but when the perpetrator is a woman professionals, and the public, the impact is downplayed.
Males who have been assaulted, additionally suffer from anxiety, and have high instances of alcohol and drug use. For example, 80% of men who have been assaulted struggle with alcohol abuse, while 11% of men who’ve never been assaulted struggle with alcohol.
The average age of a male victim is 17 years old, and the trauma can lead to risk taking and delinquent behaviors. Stigma can be the most damaging aspect, as those agencies designed to support them, shun them instead, causing them to not come forward.
Burke hopes as more men come forward “hard conversations about power and humanity and privilege and harm” will ensue.
Bennett has asked for privacy and time, via his lawyers, before making any statements. Argento has not spoken about the allegations.
Other famous and non-famous supporters defended the movement on Twitter and distanced themselves from Argento:
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
Thank you Tarana ,as you know .. trauma begets trauma ..until we heal ourselves. we are all on a path to healing ..gratitude for being the beacon that keeps us moving forward.
— Rosanna Arquette (@RoArquette)
August 20, 2018
This revelation about Asia Argento doesn’t undermine the #MeToo movement. It shows that rape causes damage that reverberates through the world in incalculable ways. That doesn’t mean what she did isn’t utterly fucked up, or that she shouldn’t be held accountable.
— Emily H. Johnson (@EmilyJReports) August 20, 2018
Argento has already suffered professional ramifications for her actions. Producers of an Italian singing competition she judges told the
Hollywood Reporter that Argento will be fired if the Times’ report is “confirmed.”