#MeToo Leader Asia Argento Allegedly Paid Her Sexual Assault Accuser

Italian actress Asia Argento, a #MeToo leader and one of the first women to publicly accuse movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, has found herself on the other side of the #MeToo conversation.

In a New York Times report released on Sunday, the actress allegedly made a deal with a young actor who accused her of sexual assault months after she had accused Weinstein.

The Times says it obtained documents showing Argento paid 22-year-old actor Jimmy Bennett $380,000 to settle the accusations. The alleged assault took place at a hotel in California in 2013. Bennett was 17-years-old at the time, and Argento was 37. The age of consent in California is 18.

Bennett first met Argento at the age of seven on while starring in the 2004 movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things together, ABC News reports. They allegedly stayed in contact throughout the years and agreed to meet years later for a reunion.

Bennett claims that he met Argento in May 2013 at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California. The actor went to her hotel room with a family member, but the family member left when Argento asked to be alone with Bennett.

According to the Times, Bennett alleges that Argento gave him alcohol prior to the assault, which allegedly included oral sex and intercourse.

The documents showed that Argento asked to take pictures with Bennett, and the Times received “a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed,” along with the documents.

“As part of the agreement, Mr. Bennett, who is now 22, gave the photograph and its copyright to Ms. Argento, now 42,” the Times said. “Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic.”

Bennett allegedly asked Argento for $3.5 million in damages, a month after she spoke out about Weinstein last October, and Argento arranged to pay Bennett $380,000.

The first installment was made in April 2018, the Times reported.

via Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

In a statement on Monday, Bennett’s attorney, Gordon K. Sattro, told CNN, “At this time, our client, Jimmy Bennett, does not wish to comment on the documents or the events discussed in the New York Times article yesterday evening.”

“While we realize that the news cycle demands an immediate response, many times, people need more than a few minutes or hours to respond. We are asking that you give our client some time and space,” the statement read.

“Jimmy is going to take the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response,” the statement added. “We ask that you respect our client's privacy during this time. My office will reach out once he is prepared to deliver his official response.”

On Monday, Weinstein's attorney Benjamin Brafman released a statement to CNN, saying, “This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein.”

“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,” the statement continued. “The sheer duplicity of her conduct is quite extraordinary and should demonstrate to everyone how poorly the allegations against Mr. Weinstein were actually vetted and accordingly, cause all of us to pause and allow due process to prevail, not condemnation by fundamental dishonesty.”

Argento, one of the 13 women included in the first October 2017 New Yorker report about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assaults, has not commented on the allegations.

Rose McGowan, another of Weinstein's early accusers, commented on the Times piece on Twitter Monday.

“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,” McGowan wrote. “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.”