After the New York Times revealed a $380,000 settlement agreement between Asia Argento and her own accuser, former child actor Jimmy Bennett, the Italian actress issued a statement of denial regarding the alleged 2013 sexual assault. In doing so, Argento claimed that her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, decided to pay this hush money to avoid “possible negative publicity.” And two weeks later, Argento’s attorney, Mark Heller, has released a statement, in which she refuses to pay the remainder of the settlement balance to Bennett, who has already received $250,000.
In the statement, Argento — despite a photo (which was a key element of the settlement) published by TMZ that shows Bennett, then 17, in bed with the then-37-year-old actress — still denies having had sexual relations with Bennett. Rather, she claims that the two formed a “long distance friendship” after she played his mother in a film. The statement also brings up Bourdain again in reference to “his desire to avoid potential scandal”:
“Now that Mr. Bourdain has passed away and is not able to comment on his desire to avoid potential scandal … Asia will not permit any portion of the balance of the $380,000 payment to be paid to Bennett who has already received $250,000 from Anthony Bourdain.”
Argento then announces how “Phase Two of the #MeToo movement” will propel her to continue crusading against Harvey Weinstein while recovering from “the fallback of a smear campaign” that she suggests …. might be the work of Harvey Weinstein himself:
“Asia’s courage to originally make the accusations against Harvey Weinstein has not waned … Phase Two of the #metoo movement dictates that the voice of a victim, even one with a history that may be in question, should be heard and she is hopeful that in the Court of Public Opinion it will ultimately be determined that Asia never initiated an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, but rather she was attacked by Bennett and might even be suffering the fallback of a smear campaign by those already accused who may have a vested interest in their accusers being denied credibility.”
Argento’s approach here is consistent with the inconsistencies that she’s run with so far, especially regarding the photo published by TMZ and including revelations from non-binary model Rain Dove that Argento had drastically changed her story within text messages about Bennett’s accusations.
As for Bourdain, he’s obviously unable to speak regarding his own intent, but some previously revealed texts between Argento and Bourdain showed that he wasn’t purchasing silence, “only freedom from inconvenience.” He added, “And to help a ‘poor twisted goof’ get his life together.” Bennett has since given his own public statement to stress that he was “ashamed and afraid” to come forward with his accusations against Argento.
(Via Mark Heller)