Jimmy Bennett, who has claimed that he was sexually assaulted by Italian actor Asia Argento at the age of 17, says he did not speak out initially for fear of being misunderstood.
Argento, one of the first women to go public with allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, has been accused of sexually assaulting Bennett and then paying him off in 2017.
In a statement to a leading daily, Bennett said, “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,” he added.
A report by another daily, obtained the legal documents in which Bennett claimed that Argento assaulted him in a California hotel when he was only two months past his 17th birthday; the age of consent in California is 18.
Argento and Bennett co-starred in 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”, which Argento also wrote and directed. Bennett, a 7-year-old at the time, played Argento’s son. The two apparently kept in touch.
Argento has denied assaulting Bennett, saying the actor wanted to extract money from her after her name came up in the Weinstein scandal.
She said rather than facing a court battle at a time when she was already dealing with a public case, her then-boyfriend, late chef Anthony Bourdain, decided to pay off Bennett.
The New York Times, which first published the report about Arjento, is standing by its story while TMZ, has published texts by Argento to one of her friends where she admits to having sex with Bennett.
The website also released one of the four photos Bennett is said to have taken in the hotel room with Argento when the alleged incident occurred. The cropped selfie purports to show Bennett and Argento together in bed.
Bennett, now 22, said he was initially not ready to deal with the story becoming public but he now no longer wants to stay silent.
“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.