Content warning: This piece deals with issues around rape and sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.
In the 10 months since The New York Times published an explosive report alleging 65-year-old film executive, Harvey Weinstein, sexually harassed many women in Hollywood over a period of 30 years, we’ve been engaged in a complex and important cultural conversation.
With countless men and women coming forward to tell their stories about sexual assault and harassment, a spotlight has been shone on the nuances of these experiences. We’ve asked questions about power, shame, consent, inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, and what it means to be complicit. Time and time again, however, we’re learning that we’re only just beginning to understand these issues.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Asia Argento, an Italian actress and director who has become a leading figure in the #MeToo movement, paid off her own accuser. While the 42-year-old publicly shared her story of sexual assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, she was quietly arranging to pay $380,000 to a young actor named Jimmy Bennett, who claimed she sexually assaulted him when he was 17.
The documents, seen by The New York Times, claim that for Bennett, seeing Argento presented as a victim triggered memories of his own ‘sexual battery’ in a hotel room in May, 2013.
His account states that on May 9, he arrived at Argento’s room at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California, for a ‘reunion,’ as the actors had worked together closely in the past. Bennett was accompanied by a family member, whom Argento requested leave so she could be alone with Bennett. The then 37-year-old actress kissed her former colleague, removed his pants and performed oral sex, before climbing on top of him and having intercourse.
Argento shared a number of photos of the reunion on social media.