Asia Argento Denies Alleged Sexual Assault, Says Anthony Bourdain Paid Off Accuser
The Italian actress, who was one of the first to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, responds to a report that she allegedly paid off her own sexual assault accuser.
Asia Argento on Tuesday morning (Aug. 21) denied that she ever had a sexual relationship with an underage male in response to a Sunday New York Times report. The Italian actress, who was one of the first to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, was accused of secretly paying off a young male actor who accused her of sexual misconduct in the months after her revelations about the disgraced movie mogul.
Argento said the assault never happened. However, she did say a payment was made to child actor Jimmy Bennett by her then-boyfriend, the late Anthony Bourdain, so Bennett would stop harassing them. "I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false," she said in a statement obtained by journalist Yashar Ali. "I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."
Argento says Bennett tried to extort her. And rather than having a long, drawn-out battle in the press amid the Weinstein scandal, it was Bourdain who said a payment would be made in order to make the situation disappear, she said.
"This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution," Argento continued in the statement. "I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues."
Now 22, Bennett was a prolific child actor and notably starred as a young James T. Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. He also had roles in Poseidon, Evan Almighty and Firewall. Argento and Bennett co-starred in 2004's The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, which Argento wrote and directed. Bennett, a 7-year-old at the time, played Argento's son.
Read Argento's full statement below:
I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news.
I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.
I was linked to him during several years by friendship only, which ended when, subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett — who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages — unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me. Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect.
Antony [sic] 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 we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.
This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution. I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.