New details have surfaced surrounding sexual assault allegations made against actress Asia Argento by her former The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things co-star Jimmy Bennett.
On Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, TMZ released leaked text messages in which Argento appeared to discuss the alleged sexual encounter with an unnamed friend shortly after the scandal first broke earlier this week.
The Italian actress, who’s best known for her roles in films like xXx and Land of the Dead, reportedly wrote, “The horny kid jumped me … I had sex with him it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter.” Argento added, “It wasn’t raped but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since was 12.”
As Nicki Swift previously reported, a New York Times exposé, published on Sunday, Aug. 19, first claimed that Argento quietly paid Bennett $380,000 in April 2018 after he accused her of sexual assault last fall. The former child actor’s claims stemmed from an alleged May 2013 incident, in which Argento, then 37, gave a 17-year-old Bennett alcohol before performing oral sex on him and having intercourse with him at the Marina del Rio hotel in California. In the state of California, the age of consent is 18.
The actress has since denied these claims. On Tuesday, Aug. 21, she stated to New York Magazine‘s Yashar Ali that her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, had paid the settlement in order to avoid negative publicity. “We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him,” she stated, claiming that Bennett had been “undergoing severe economic problems” at the time. “Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false,” Argento, who became an outspoken #MeToo movement activist after accusing disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in October 2017, wrote in her statement. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
In TMZ‘s recently released texts, Argento reportedly told her friend, “The public knows nothing, only what NYT wrote. Which is one sided.” The gossip rag’s report also included a leaked snapshot of the actress with Bennett, in which they appeared to be topless in bed together. According to sources cited by the media outlet, the photo was taken following the alleged incident. However, Argento claimed that the picture “doesn’t mean s**t,” allegedly writing to her friend, “You can see my t**s. That’s all. He is standing up.”
Argento also reportedly sent her friend a snapshot of a letter Bennett allegedly wrote on the hotel’s stationary. It read, “Asia, I love you with all my heart. So glad we met again and I’m so glad your in my life. Jimmy.” Alongside the letter, the actress claimed that Bennett “kept sending me unsolicited nudes all these years” via Snapchat, up until two weeks before Argento received his attorney’s letter citing Bennett’s intent to sue over intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault, and battery. “I didn’t report because I always felt bad for this Hollywood failed child actor, a casualty of the machine, of his parents,” she continued. “I have 80 pages on him by a PI that Anthony hired.”
At the time of this writing, Argento has not publicly commented on these leaked text message exchanges, and Bennett has yet to speak out publicly on the allegations. However, Weinstein’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, has since condemned the actress over the allegations.
“This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein,” he released in a statement to the Daily Mail. “‘What is perhaps most egregious, is the timing, which suggests that at the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years.”