Following a bombshell report from the New York Times that detailed a $380,000 settlement between Asia Argento — Italian actress and prominent Harvey Weinstein accuser — and former child actor Jimmy Bennett, Argento has not offered any public comment on the matter. However, fellow #MeToo figure and Weinstein accuser (as well as friend to Argento) Rose McGowan has spoken out. In the process, she appears to be distancing herself from Argento while not directly commenting on the allegations in question.
“I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago,” McGowan wrote on Twitter. “Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.”
McGowan’s remarks — and in particular, the “be gentle” comment — are being called out by Twitter users who screencapped McGowan’s previous insistence that people should “believe survivors” and “grab a spine and denounce.”
Although the two actresses had crossed paths on various occasions over the years, McGowan and Argento didn’t grow close until last fall while bonding over their shared Weinstein-associated trauma. McGowan’s treading carefully, which is a wise tactic considering that Twitter is a minefield over the Argento report. Many of the reactions to the claims against Argento are ugly, but this tweet from Candra Maung places the two sets of allegations in perspective.
According to the NY Times summary of legal documents, the settlement in question was geared toward avoiding a public claim from Bennett, who alleged that Argento sexually assaulted him while he was 17 years old and she was 37, years after they starred together in a film in which she played his mother. (Food writer Kim Severson presumably received the docs due to Argento’s status as Anthony Bourdain’s girlfriend before his suicide.) Bennett claimed that Argento (who played his mother in a 2004 film while he was 7 years old) requested to be alone with him in a hotel room during a 2013 reunion. She then allegedly gave him alcohol before pushing him onto the bed and performing oral sex on him.
Bennett further alleges that Argento “climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse” before she requested that the two take photos while lounging in bed. (Note: A different photo of the two together, with Argento’s arms wrapped around Bennett, can be viewed at NBC News.) According to the documents, Bennett then departed in a car to his parents’ home, and in the process, he felt “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted.” Bennett’s lawyer claimed in the documents that his client’s “feelings about that day” were stirred up by seeing Argento’s public statements against Harvey Weinstein.
Again, Argento has not remarked upon the claims against her or the settlement report, but Severson has tweeted that more is to come from this story.