Asia Argento has broken her silence when it comes to this week’s very troubling accusation that she sexually assaulted an actor named Jimmy Bennett.
First, she strongly denies this allegation.
Second, she says that Anthony Bourdain actually played a major role in the disturbing and confusing story.
On Monday morning, The New York Times published a lengthy article in which it outlined how Argento paid Bennett $380,000 last year, ostensibly to settle the claim of rape he made against her out of court.
Based on legal documents, the newspaper described Bennett’s accusation in painstaking detail:
On May 9, 2013, when Argento was 37 years old and Bennett (an actor who had starred as her son in a 2004 film) was 17 years old, the two met at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, California.
Inside this room, Bennett alleges, Argento plied him with alcohol… performed oral sex on him … and then had sexual intercourse with him.
The allegation would be troubling under any circumstance, but Argento was one of the first women to accuse movie producer Harvey Weinstein of rape.
Right around the time she was going public with her grisly interactions with Weinstein, Argento was paying off Bennett for his silence.
This situation is not being denied by Argento.
But in her first comments since the assault charges came to light, she the Italian actress has vehemently proclaimed her innocence — and attempted to explain just why she gave Bennett all that money.
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article…as circulated also in national and international news,” a statement from her agent said.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false.
“I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
Argento goes on to detail the circumstances surrounding her relationship with Bennett; both of their lives at the time; and the role Bourdain played in this scandalous incident:
I was linked to him during several years by friendship only, which ended when, subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett – who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously taken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages – unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me.
Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect.
Argento was dating Bourdain when the famous chef and author committed suicide several weeks ago.
She goes on to say that Bourdain was the one who pushed to make this $380,000 payment in order to keep the accusation out of the news, writing:
Antony [sic] insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted.
Anthony was afraid of the possible negativity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him.
Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions into our life.
Here is how Argento concludes her statement:
This is, therefore, the umpteeth 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 allegation and will assume in the short term and all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.
We can’t say we saw this twist coming, that Argento would admit to the payout, deny the assault and claim Bourdain was actually the person who insisted on shoving the allegation under the carpet.
Bourdain, of course, is sadly not around to state his side of this story.
Considering the sensitive nature of this accusation, we’re not about to take sides ourselves here.
We’ll just report the facts and the statements as we know them and as we’ve read them and we’ll let our readers make up their own minds.
Do you believe what Argento is saying here?