Asia Argento Sexual Assault Accuser Jimmy Bennett Says He Was ‘Ashamed And Afraid’ To Come Forward

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Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento has come under fire this week after a stunning report from the New York Times that detailed allegations from former child actor Jimmy Bennett, who accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013 when he was 17, and she was 37. The anonymously leaked legal documents also revealed a $380,000 settlement and (as a key element of the agreement) gave Argento control of photos of the two lounging in bed together. Following inconsistent statements made by Argento during her denial of sexual assault, Bennett is now speaking out.

Within some leaked text messages published by TMZ, Argento had accused Bennett of being the aggressor while calling him a “horny kid.” Yet in her denial, she insisted that the two never had sexual intercourse. Bennett wants to set the record straight on why he didn’t go public last fall with his accusations and tried to settle them privately. He also explains how his “trauma resurfaced” when Argento came forward with her Weinstein claims. Via the New York Times:

“I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative.

“I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy. I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time. I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.”

Previously, Argento stated that her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, had paid Bennett hush money to avoid “possible negative publicity.” Yet in leaked text messages between the famed chef and the Italian actress, Bourdain stated that he was simply trying to help her attain “freedom from inconvenience.” Bourdain added that he was also making the payment to “help a ‘poor twisted goof’ get his life together.” As for who is leaking all these legal documents and text messages, that mystery remains.

In his statement, Bennett also takes time to commend the bravery of those women and men who have come forward as part of the #MeToo movement. You can read that statement in full here.

(Via New York Times)