The former child actor who turned the #MeToo movement on its head last month when he accused Asia Argento, on of the movement’s leading voices, of sexually assaulting him in 2013, appeared on an Italian TV show Sunday night and made his first public remarks on the alleged incident.
Bennett, sporting a mop of hair that’s dyed blonde and pink, was interviewed by Massimo Gilletti on Non e l’Arena, or Outside The Arena, which airs on Italy’s independent Channel 7. Gilletti has been compared to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in terms of his clout within Italy’s media landscape.
Bennett revealed some previously undisclosed details about the meeting in which he says Argento sexually abused him. He was 17 at the time, she was 37 and the age of consent in California is 18. He told Gilletti that a male chaperone had brought him to the 2013 meeting with Argento, which took place in a hotel room in Los Angeles. The premise of the meeting was to discuss an upcoming film project, but Bennett said the agenda quickly moved in another direction. Bennett said Argento made the chaperone feel unwelcome, and he left the hotel room.
Once they were alone, Bennett alleges Argento offered him champagne and then pushed him onto the bed and the assault followed. “It all happened very fast,” Bennett said, his lawyer, Gordon Sattro, looking on in front of a live studio audience.
“She started kissing me longer and longer … and it started to feel to me that it was less of just a friendly thing and more of something she was trying to push or explore,” he continued. “It turned into her placing her hands on me and following that was when she pushed me onto the bed and took my pants off.”
The power that she had over the situation made me feel powerless in a way,” Bennett said.
Gilletti then asked an awkward question about whether he orgasmed, according to The Daily Beast.
“Was the rapport complete?” Gilletti asked, prompting Bennett, caught off-guard by the query, to ask the interviewer to repeat the question.
“Was the rapport complete?” he asked again.
Bennett, appearing uncomfortable, replied, “Well, yes.” Bennett then said Argento asked him to take a photo of the two lying in bed, which he did on his smartphone and was recently made public by TMZ.
But Gilletti expressed doubt about the veracity of his story. Bennett explained he didn’t come forward about it right away because he felt shame over what occurred and was worried he’d be perceived as being insincere.
Argento’s lawyer issued a statement to ABC News disputing Bennett’s latest claims and denying that Argento ever plied him with champagne or assaulted him during the 2013 meeting. Not only has Argento been one of the most influential voices of the #MeToo movement, she is one of the first women to have accused disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of raping her, and abusing his position of power and her vulnerability as a young actress in Hollywood. Bennett spoke to a similar power imbalance in his remarks to Gilletti.
“The power that she had over the situation made me feel powerless in a way,” Bennett said. And that’s not where the similarities in Bennett’s accusations against Argento and Argento’s allegations against Weinstein end. At the time Argento’s accusations became public, she faced a harsh backlash from a disbelieving public. The harassment that ensued was so bad she actually fled the country over fears for her safety.
— Non è l'Arena (@nonelarena) September 24, 2018
The Italian public appears to view Bennett’s accusations against Argento in a similarly skeptical light. The Twitter account for Outside the Arena is polling its viewers about whether they believe Bennett. While the number of respondents is modest as of this writing, nearly two thirds of respondents indicating that they do not. For more on the story, watch the video below.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 24, 2018