Alleged Harvey Weinstein victim is reportedly being accused of making a deal with her own accuser
Asia Argento, the Italian actress and director who was among the first to accuse disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, has settled an accusation of assault made against her by a former child actor, according to The New York Times. Argento went on to become a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, after disclosing to The New York Times back in October that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, when she was 21 years old.
In the months that followed her revelations about Weinstein - who was arrested in New York, charged with rape and other offences, and released on bail on May 25th - Argento arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser, Jimmy Bennet. The actor and musician claims that she assaulted him in a hotel room in California, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday.
The legal age of consent in the state of California is 18, and at the time, Argento was 37.
Documents obtained by The New York Times reveal that the actress agreed to pay Bennet - who played Argento's son in the 2004 film The Heat is Deceitful Above All Things - a sum of $380,000 over the course of a year and a half. The allegations and arrangement for payment are laid out in documents pertaining to the lawyers representing both parties.
Included in the papers was a selfie from the 9th May, 2013, of the pair lying in bed. As part of the settlement, Bennet, who is now 22-years-old, has given the photograph and its copyright to Argento. Three people who are familiar with the case have since stated that the documents are authentic.
For the erstwhile child actor, the 2013 hotel-room encounter was "sexual battery", and prompted a spiral which threatened his mental health, according to a notice of intent to sue that Bennet's lawyer sent to Argento's representative, Richard Hofstetter, in November.
The documents report that Bennet was initially planning to sue the 42-year-old for $3.5 million in damages, referencing emotional distress, assault and lost wages. He claimed that his income dropped from $2.7 million to $60,000 after the reported assault.
For Bennet, seeing Argento become a trailblazer for the #MeToo and Time's Up movements this year proved to be distressing. "His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein," Bennet's lawyer, Gordon K Sattro asserted in the notice of intent to sue.
Representatives for both Argento and Bennet have not immediately responded to requests for comment.
Argento found herself in the press back in June after her boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, committed suicide. The New York Times article reports that the celebrity chef "helped Ms Argento navigate the matter", however, the extent of his involvement is yet unknown.