Italian actor Asia Argento, one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, has denied a report that she had a sexual relationship with an underage male and later paid him off.
A leading daily’s report claims she secretly paid off a young male actor, who was 17 at the time. The actor later accused her of sexual misconduct in the months after her revelations about Weinstein.
Argento 42, said the assault never happened. However, she did say a payment was made to child actor Jimmy Bennett by her then-boyfriend, the late Anthony Bourdain, who thought it would be prudent to deal with the matter privately as they were already in the middle of the Weinstein scandal. Bourdain
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news. I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” she said in a statement obtained by journalist Yashar Ali.
Argento said Benett was going through severe financial problems and after her exposure in the Weinstein case, “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me”.
“Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect. Antony [sic] insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted,” she said, adding that the chef was afraid it would bring negativity to their life.
This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution. I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”
The allegations against Argento have shocked many in the industry and are being considered as the first major challenge for the #MeToo movement.