Published Aug 21, 2018Yesterday (August 20), allegations emerged that Asia Argento had paid off a former child actor she supposedly sexually assaulted when he was 17 years old. Now, the Italian actress and director has released a statement denying the claims.
In the statement, Argento called the allegations "absolutely false," claiming that she never engaged in a sexual relationship with former child actor and musician Jimmy Bennett. She then accused Bennett of extortion, adding that her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain opted to pay what ended up being a $380,000 USD settlement.
"Bennett — who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously untaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages — unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me," Argento said.
"Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. 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 he would no longer suffer any further instructions in our life."
Read Argento's full statement below.
According to TMZ, texts between Argento and Bourdain revealed conversations about Bennett. Referring to him as a "donkey," they discussed how to stop him from speaking to them. Bourdain added that paying Bennett is "no admission of anything, no attempt to buy a cover up, simply an offer to help an obviously tortured soul whose desperate and trying to jack you for money."
Bourdain continued, "Or you just tell him to fuck himself. Either way, I am with you."
At one point in their text conversation, Argento suggested some sort of physical interaction between her and Bennett did take place. "It wasn't raped [sic] but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12."
The allegations of sexual misconduct first broke in an article by the New York Times, which reported that Argento paid Bennett after he accused her of sexual assault in a California hotel room two months past his 17th birthday in 2013. Argento was 37 at the time. The age of consent in California is 18.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has since said it will investigate Argento over the allegations.