#MeToo trailblazer Asia Argento reportedly paid off minor actor who filed sexual assault lawsuit against her

Press Trust of India

August 20, 2018 12:15:07 IST

Actor-director Asia Argento, one of the vocal advocates of the #MeToo movement, settled a claim last year from a former child actor that she assaulted him when he was 17.

Asia Argento. Image via Twitter/@shahdimple614

Asia Argento. Image via Twitter/@shahdimple614

According to documents obtained by The New York Times, Argento, made a deal with former child actor-musician Jimmy Bennett for the amount of $380,000, payable over the period of a year-and-a-half.

She paid off Bennett, who claims to have been assaulted in a California hotel room in 2013 by the then 37-year-old actor when he was a little over 17, in the months that followed her allegations of sexual abuse by the now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Argento's counsel who handled the settlement, Carrie Goldberg, described the money as "helping Mr Bennett" in the documents. According to the papers, Argento asked the family member, who accompanied the minor actor, to leave so she could be alone with him.

She gave him alcohol to drink and showed him a series of notes she had written to him on hotel stationery. Then she kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, removed his pants and performed oral sex. She climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse, the document says.

She then asked him to take a number of photos. After lunch, Bennett headed home to Orange County, where he lived with his parents. As he was driven home, according to his claim, he began to feel "extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted".

Later that day she shared a close-up of their faces on Instagram with the caption, "Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox," and added "jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack." That post and others were included with the notice of intent.

The papers sent to The New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party include a selfie dated 9 May, 2013, of the duo lying in bed.

As per the terms of the deal, Bennett, now 22, transferred the photograph and its copyright to Argento, now 42. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic.

Argento was one of the 13 women whose name was included in the first October 2017 New Yorker report about Weinstein's dark tales of harassment that dated back decades.

The claim and the following arrangement for payments are laid out in documents between lawyers for Argento and Bennett, who once played her son in 2004's The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.

Bennett's notice of intent asked for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.

Gordon K Sattro, Bennett's lawyer wrote in the notice of intent to sue that it was Argento presenting herself as a victim of sexual assault was too much to bear for him, which gradually jogged up memories of the hotel incident.

According to The Times, Bennett sent Argento a Twitter message, "Miss you momma!" a month later that included a photograph of an engraved bracelet she had given him to commemorate the movie. He is currently off Twitter.

That same month, he confronted his mother and stepfather over the state of a trust into which some of his earnings as an actor had been deposited, according to a lawsuit he filed in Orange County Superior Court in October 2014.

The Times has tried repeatedly since August 16 to get a response to the matter from Argento and her representatives.

Goldberg is yet to respond too. A woman who answered the phone at Goldberg's office on 17 August said the lawyer would not be available to discuss this article.

Argento, was recently trolled online after her boyfriend, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, committed suicide.

Updated Date: Aug 20, 2018 12:15 PM