Published Sep 06, 2018Last month, Asia Argento was accused of paying off former co-star Jimmy Bennett, who alleged the actress had sexually assaulted him in 2013 at age 17. While Argento denied the allegations, her lawyer has now released a statement claiming she was assaulted by Bennett.
In a statement published through his website, lawyer Mark Jay Heller claims that Argento's relationship with Bennett "was never sexual, but rather the relationship was a long distance friendship over many years."
Heller references leaked text messages and images obtained by TMZ document her account of the assault. One of the messages reads, "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."
Heller continued: "She went on to relate that she became 'frozen' when he was on top of her and he told her that she had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12 years old. Asia chose at the time not to prosecute Bennett for sexually attacking her."
Concerning the hush payment, Heller writes that the $380,000 USD settlement Argento paid to Bennett was made at the insistence of her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain:
When Bennett learned of the romantic relationship between Asia and Anthony Bourdain and believing that Anthony Bourdain was wealthy and had an outstanding reputation to protect and that they were both vulnerable to embarrassment because they were recognized as early and prominent supporters of the #metoo movement, Bennett chose to intrude on that relationship and demanded a financial payment from Bourdain in consideration for not embarrassing Asia and indirectly Bourdain by virtue of Bourdain' relationship with Asia. Bourdain chose to protect Asia's and his reputation and to pay Bennett and allowed Bennett to extract payments from him. Asia was completely against this approach because she had done nothing wrong and especially since the incident was initiated and perpetrated by Bennett against her, but she respected Anthony's choice to avoid the potential intrusion into their relationship and the negative impact it might have against Bourdain and his high profile position in the Media community.
Heller adds that since Bourdain has passed away, Argento will not pay Bennett the remaining $130,000 of the settlement, writing, "Asia recognizes that this may very well inspire Bennett to make further false allegations against her and attempt to besmirch her reputation and diminish her credibility in her accusations against Harvey Weinstein."
Heller's statement also notes that Bennett was alleged to have been charged by the Los Angeles Police Department with "'unlawful sex with a minor,' 'stalking' and 'child pornography' and 'child exploitation'" in 2014, in addition to a history of drug use.
Furthermore, the statement reveals that "Asia does not intend to prosecute Bennett for his conduct and recognizes that his unfortunate past, his stalled acting career, and a lawsuit against his own parents for allegedly misappropriating more than a million and a half dollars from his account might explain his desperation to seek money from Asia and Bourdain for this falsely alleged incident that took place more than five years ago."
TMZ reports that Bennett intends to file a sexual assault claim with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Bennett's lawyer, Gordon Sattro, told the site, "The attack on my client's character has no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013. These are statements that are meant to intimidate, shame and insult my client."
You can read Heller's entire statement here.