Asia Argento is denying claims that she had had a sexual relationship with an underage actor just two days after the New York Times reported that she had paid off her accuser, Jimmy Bennett.
The 42-year-old Italian actress spoke out in a statement to New York Magazine on Tuesday, August 21, where she explained the reasoning behind the payoff.
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dates 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news,” she began the lengthy statement. “I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
She continued to note that following her headline-making accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Bennett — “who was then undergoing severe economic problems” — had made an unexpected “exorbitant request of money” from her. The statement also says that the now 22-year-old musician knew Argento’s late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain was “a man of great perceived wealth.”
Argento then said that Bourdain “insisted that the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted,” adding that the former Parts Unknown host was “afraid of the negative publicity” that Bennett could bring upon them. She claims the money was based “upon the condition we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
Argento concluded: “This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long standing prosecution. I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”
The Times reported on Sunday that Bennett accused Argento of sexually assaulting him in a hotel room in May 2013, while he was only 17 at the time. The legal age of consent in California — where the alleged assault took place — is 18. Argento, who was 37 at the time, played the mother of Bennett’s character in the 2004 movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.
The newspaper also reports that Bennett filed a 2014 lawsuit against his mom and stepfather accusing them of cheating him out of the earnings he had made as an actor.