Asia Argento has denied ever having a sexual relationship with a former co-star who claims she sexually assaulted him when he was a minor.
In a statement, Argento denies the allegations by actor Jimmy Bennett but admits her late partner Anthony Bourdain paid him a $380,000 settlement to end Bennett’s “long standing prosecution” of her. Bourdain was found dead in a French hotel room in June, aged 61.
The claims, first published by the New York Times on Monday, concern an alleged incident at a California hotel in 2013. Bennett was 17 at the time.
In her statement Argento said that Bennett had made the claims after she had made her own allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein last October.
According to the New York Times report, Argento had settled the notice of intent to sue filed by Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 that same month.
Argento alleged Weinstein assaulted her in a Cannes hotel in 1997 and has become one of the most outspoken critics of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry, delivering a scathing speech about him at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” Argento said in her statement.
“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. Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a 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.”
Argento’s friend and fellow #MeToo actress Rose McGowan has said she was “heartbroken” over the claims.
“I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein,” she tweeted. “My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.”
She later tweeted: “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.”
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