Some are calling her an entitled hypocrite and wondering whether she is still in the movement. She is Asia Argento, one of the most prominent activists at the forefront of the #MeToo Movement which opposes sexual harassment by prominent individuals on women. She recently agreed to settle a grievance filed against her for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old actor and musician. How ironical.
The Italian actor was accused of giving alcohol and sexually assaulting the then 17-year-old Jimmy Bennett, now 22, in a California hotel and recently agreed to pay $380,000 to the young actor. She was 33 at the time. The revelations are ironical considering that recently in October; she accused Hollywood big shot Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her.
Asia Argento starred with her victim in a 2004 film called “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” in which the activist played Bennett’s prostitute mother. He was 7 at the time. Reports doing round indicate that she had sex with Bennett in 2013, a couple of months after he turned 17. Needless to say, the legal age for sexual consent in California is 18.
According to the New York Times, the sexual encounter traumatized Bennett and left him feeling “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted” in addition to negatively affecting his career. A selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed alongside other documents are said to have been forwarded to the newspaper, with insiders confirming their authenticity. None of Argento’s representatives could be reached for comments.
The times reported the incident: “[I]n the months that followed her revelations about Mr. Weinstein last October, Ms. Argento quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser: Jimmy Bennett, a young actor and rock musician who said she had sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room years earlier, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday.”
Argento became one of the most prominent activists after she claimed Harvey Weinstein had assaulted her during the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 when she was 21. She claims to have given up fighting and instead opted to feign pleasure in the hope that the assault would stop. “The thing with being a victim is I felt responsible,” she said. “Because if I were a strong woman, I would have kicked him in the balls and run away. But I didn’t. And so I felt responsible.” She also describes the incident as a ‘horrible trauma.’
Dozens of women have come out to claim sexual assault against the Hollywood mogul who has been indicted on sex crime charges involving three women, none of whom is Argento. He has denied all the allegations of non-consensual sex.
Too much to bear
Bennett claims that seeing Argento present herself as the victim was too much to bear. In a notice of the intent to sue, his lawyer wrote: “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.”
Ms. Argento, who is divorced with two children, is reported to have been both a mentor and a mother figure to Bennett. The two were always in contact as he grew up. “Jimmy’s impression of this situation was that a mother-son relationship had blossomed from their experience on set together,” continued his lawyer.
These revelations have certainly emboldened Weinstein’s lawyer who said in a statement: “This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein… What is perhaps most egregious, is the timing, which suggests that at the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years.” And the drama continues.
Argento was also on the receiving end of online trolls who accused her of causing her boyfriend- Anthony Bourdain’s death. He took his own life. Many of the sexual harassment survivors wrote an open letter on the Los Angeles Times to support her. Besides the 2004 movie with Bennett, she has starred in numerous other movies including ‘Daddy Day Care’ and a recent role in the TV series Bosch. On his part, Bennett is now pursuing a career in music.
Fellow actress and alleged self-proclaimed sexual assault victim Rose McGowan took to Twitter to show her support. She claims to be heartbroken at the news that her best friend quietly paid off her own sexual assault.
“I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein,” she tweeted shortly after the news broke. “My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.”
She added in a subsequent tweet: “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.”
Take a seat, grab your popcorns and take a chill pill. It looks like there are more twists and drama surrounding this #METOO campaign yet to come!