A week after the New York Times published a report about former child actor Jimmy Bennett’s 2013 sexual assault claim against Asia Argento, the noted Harvey Weinstein accuser has been dropped from her X Factor Italy job. Argento had denied Bennett’s allegations while claiming that he successfully shook her down for a $380,000 settlement (which she says Anthony Bourdain paid for publicity-related reasons), but multiple inconsistencies in her story have only stirred up more backlash against Argento.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Argento has been fired from the show, although she will appear as a judge on the season’s first seven episodes, which were taped prior to Bennett’s accusations being made public. The show hasn’t named a replacement but explains that it wouldn’t be fair to contestants to fully remove Argento from the broadcast, since that would mean redoing the whole season:
The live portion of the show will officially begin with a new judge and the main cast from Oct. 25. Sources say that Sky Italia does not want to penalize the 40,000 people who initially attended the casting for one of the final 12 coveted spots on the show. The process would have to be scrapped and started anew if the show cut Argento completely to start casting from scratch.
Argento’s relationship with her native Italy has grown more complicated since she revealed her own allegations against Weinstein. She experienced a severe backlash last fall from the general public, many of whom were not sympathetic to her account of being forced into sexual encounters with the disgraced mogul. Given that Bennett has accused Argento of sexually assaulting him (when he was 17, and she was 37), the Italian press has been quick to note the apparent hypocrisy at hand, and X Factor Italy producers felt the need to take action.
Argento hasn’t yet made a public statement regarding her firing. It also remains unclear who has been leaking text messages and photos (of Argento in bed with Bennett) to TMZ or who anonymously sent those legal documents of the settlement to the New York Times in the first place.