Just a few months after Italian actress and director Asia Argento became one of the first people to accuse disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape and sexual assault, the New York Times reports that the prominent #MeToo activist is being accused of paying off a young male actor who said she sexually assaulted him when he was 17.
According to the Times report, the 42-year-old Argento settled the notice of intent to sue by Jimmy Bennett for $380,000 after the actor claimed he had sex with then 37-year-old Italian actress in a California hotel a few months after his 17th birthday in 2013.
The age of consent in California is 18.
Argento and Bennett first met when they co-starred in the 2004 film, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, in which Argento played Bennett's mother. Bennet says in the notice they remained in contact over the years, and eventually agreed to meet for a reunion a few years later at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey in 2013.
Bennet claims that Argento gave him alcohol prior to the assault and that she asked to take several photos with him according to documents cited by the New York Times.
The notice of intent reportedly sought up to $3.5 million in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, and assault and battery. In the notice, Bennet said the encounter left him traumatized, and affected his mental health and damaged his career.
Argento became one of the best-known activists for the #MeToo movement after she told New Yorker Magazine last year that Weinstein had raped her at the Cannes film festival in 1997 when she was only 21-year-old. Argento said she continued her relationship with Weinstein because she was afraid of angering him and what it might do to her career.
Rose McGowan - who has also accused Weinstein of assault - wrote on Twitter that her "heart is broken" after hearing the news about Argento.
I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. 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.
Weinstein has been indicted on several sex crimes allegations from three different women, not including Aregento. He has denied all charges of non-consensual sex.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department issued a statement regarding Argento saying they were never contacted by Bennett alleging criminal activity.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is aware of the media reports naming Asia Argento as being involved in an alleged 2013 incident in an area policed by our Marina Del Rey Station. To date, the LASD has not located any police report alleging criminal activity within our jurisdiction in relation to this incident. After becoming aware of the allegations, the LASD’s Special Victims Bureau is attempting to reach out to the reported victim and/or his representatives in an effort to appropriately document any potential criminal allegations.
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