HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - The young actor who accused actress Asia Argento of having sex with him when he was 17 years old said in remarks published today that the trauma he experienced as a result of the alleged encounter resurfaced last year when the Italian actress accused producer Harvey Weinstein of rape.
Actor Jimmy Bennett, 22, said in a statement Wednesday that until now he was afraid and ashamed to speak about an incident he said happened in 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“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,” he said. “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."
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Bennett was paid a $380,000 settlement after he accused Argento of sexually assaulting him in a Marina del Rey hotel room when he was 17. In California, the age of consent is 18, and Argento is now the subject of a criminal inquiry.
Argento, 42, has been a leading figure in the #MeToo movement and denies Bennett's allegation. She insists the settlement was paid at the behest of her late partner, television personality Anthony Bourdain, in an effort to avoid bad publicity last year.
On Wednesday, Bennett insisted he was a victim, according to The Times.
“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,” Bennett said in his statement. “I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence."
Bennett said also that he “tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is now investigating the allegation of sex with a minor. Sheriff's officials said that although they had not received a report on the alleged incident, they were pursuing the matter by trying to interview the people involved.
Argento rebuffed the allegation on Tuesday while admitting to the settlement.
“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 to the Guardian newspaper and the Huffington Post.
She has said that Bennett was undergoing severe economic problems when he hit her for $380,000 and had taken legal actions against his own family seeking millions in damages. She said Bourdain pushed for the settlement.]