Asia Argento has responded to a recent New York Times article alleging that she settled a sexual-assault accusation made against her by former child actor Jimmy Bennett. Bennett was 17 years old in 2013, when he alleges the incident took place; Argento was 37. He claims the assault took place in a hotel room in California, where the age of consent is 18.
“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.”
Read the full statement below, first released by journalist Yashar Ali:
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 21, 2018