Whatever happens in the Asia Argento case doesnt take away from the fact Harvey Weinstein and many powerful men have preyed upon women, abused them, exploited them and have had their sins covered and buried, but now society is waking up and saying no more.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) August 20, 2018
Asia Argento, who emerged as one of the leading voices against Harvey Weinstein and played a huge role in the development of the #MeToo movement, made a deal with her own accuser, The New York Times reported.
In October 2017, a bombshell report by The New Yorker brought forward 13 women who accused now-disgraced producer, Weinstein, of sexual harassment and rape, Argento was one of them.
From then on, she became a prominent #MeToo leader, making way for discussion on sexual harassment within the industry. The movement became a worldwide revolution.
However, in the months after she came forward with allegations against Weinstein, she reportedly paid $380,000 to Jimmy Bennett — a child actor who had worked with Argento in a 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” He played her son in the movie.
Bennett claimed Argento allegedly sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room when was only 17-years-old — a year younger than the age of consent in California. Argento was 37 at the time.
The documents which detail the arrangement between the two parties were reportedly sent to The New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party.
They included a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed.
According to The Times, three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, which said as part of the deal Bennett would have to give the photo and its copyrights to the Italian actress.
Carrie Goldberg, the lawyer who handled the case for Argento, did not respond to The New York Times.
“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg reportedly wrote in an April letter to Bennett. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among shitty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”
According to the documents, the alleged encounter “precipitated a spiral of emotional problems” for Bennett.
Bennett’s notice of intent to use — which was reportedly sent to Richard Hofstetter, the lawyer who was representing Argento at the time (He was a longtime lawyer of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who recently died of suicide. He was dating Argento since 2016.) — asked for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.
The notice was sent a month after Argento came forward as one of the most prominent Weinstein accusers.
“His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein,” Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, wrote in the notice of intent.
In May, Argento gave an inspiring speech in Cannes; she was lauded for her courage worldwide as she called the film festival Weinstein’s “hunting ground.” She accused the producer of raping her at the same place when she was 21.
“After the rape, he won,” she said in the infamous New Yorker article.
According to the documents, Bennett thought of Argento as a mentor and a mother figure.
“Jimmy’s impression of this situation was that a mother-son relationship had blossomed from their experience on set together,” Sattro wrote.
The document also described Bennett’s account of the alleged sexual assault in 2013: Argento allegedly kissed him and then performed oral sex on him. The two then had intercourse and the Italian actress asked him to take pictures of the two of them together.
The document reportedly contained three photos that apparently showed Bennett and Argento in bed, with bare torsos. (Only one image showed their faces.) The documents also included an Instagram post from the day, from Argento, with a close up of their faces. The post was captioned: “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.”
According to his claim, Bennett began to feel “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted” on his ride back home.
A month later, however, he sent a Twitter message to Argento: “Miss you momma!!!!” His Twitter account has now been shut down.
According to The New York Times, Argento agreed to pay $380,000 to Bennett over the course of a year and a half. However, the agreement does not stop either party from speaking about the accusations.
“Ultimately, you decided against the non-disclosure language because you felt it was inconsistent with the public messages you’ve conveyed about the societal perils of non-disclosure agreements,” Goldberg reportedly wrote to Argento.
“Bennett could theoretically tell people his claims against you,” she wrote. “However, under this agreement, he cannot sue you for them. Nor can he post the photo of the two of you.”
“At the very least,” Goldberg added, “he is not permitted to bother you for more money, disparage you or sue — so long as you comply with your obligations in the agreement.”
According to The Times, Argento still, apparently, remains supportive of Bennett, hitting “like” on one of his Instagram pictures on July 17. The account, as of now, only contains two videos with most of its content deleted.
While the damning accusations put a huge question over Argento, the Twitter reaction has been pretty much similar: the accusation in no way should undermine the #MeToo movement.
This revelation about Asia Argento doesn't undermine the #MeToo movement. It shows that rape causes damage that reverberates through the world in incalculable ways. That doesn't mean what she did isn't utterly fucked up, or that she shouldn't be held accountable.— Emily H. Johnson (@EmilyJReports) August 20, 2018
Before people go off on this story, both of these things can be true:— Sarah #StopKavanaugh (@BookishFeminist) August 20, 2018
-Asia Argento sexually assaulted a minor
-She was assaulted by Weinstein
Neither of these things negate the other and neither of these behaviors are acceptable. Both should face consequences. https://t.co/wv0PqBYWcR
This is awful, but I don't see any conclusion to draw from it besides "Two things can be true at once." https://t.co/4mi3zQPUmv— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 20, 2018
5. Asia Argento may be a victim of Weinstein and also a perpetrator. A person can be both. We don't have the facts, but it's certainly possible.— joanna schroeder (@iproposethis) August 20, 2018
Two things can be equally true about Asia Argento:— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) August 20, 2018
1. She was assaulted by Harvey Weinstein
2. She had sex with a minor, 10 months before his 18th birthday, and paid him to stay quiet
Both are unacceptable, and neither negate the other.https://t.co/Zq5y96HmOn
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images