‘Economic problems’

Asia Argento denies allegations that she sexually assaulted teen actor, suggests his claims were financially motivated

Italian actrses Asia Argento (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Actress Asia Argento has denied allegations that she sexually assaulted actor Jimmy Bennett when he was 17, claiming that the $380,000 settlement paid to the actor by her late partner, Anthony Bourdain, was a compassionate act meant to avoid “negative publicity” and to alleviate Bennett’s “severe economic problems.” In a statement obtained by The Guardian, Argento said that she and the actor had been “linked in friendship only,” and suggested that Bennett had only filed the allegations due to his economic distress.

“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. “Subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett — who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages – unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me.”

“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. Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us,” Argento continued. “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 in our life.”

Bennett, now 20, had reportedly been friends with Argento since he played the role of the actress’ son in The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things when he was 7 years old. But an explosive report from The New York Times recently revealed that Bennett had sent Argento, whose own allegations of rape against Harvey Weinstein helped kickstart the #MeToo movement, a notice of intent to sue to the sum of $3.5 million over an alleged incident of sexual assault that occurred during a reunion at a California hotel in May 2013. According to the document, Bennett claimed that Argento, who was then 37, had given him alcohol and had sex with him before asking him “to take a number of photos.” But in wake of the meeting, Bennett said he was left “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted” and that the mental trauma from the “sexual battery” had severely impacted his income.

The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department is now reportedly investigating the incident. Bennett himself has yet to comment on the story.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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