One of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment recently settled a complaint filed against her by a young actor and musician who said she sexually assaulted him when he was 17, the New York Times reported.
Asia Argento, 42, settled the notice of intent to sue filed by Jimmy Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 shortly after she said last October that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her, the Times reported.
Argento and Bennett co-starred in a 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, in which Argento played Bennett’s mother.
Bennett says in the notice that he had sex with Argento in a California hotel in 2013. The age of consent in California is 18. The notice says the encounter traumatised Bennett, affected his mental health and damaged his career, the Times reported.
The notice claims that Bennett arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey to meet Argento in her hotel room on 10 May 2013, with a family member. Argento asked to be alone with Bennett and the family member left. Bennett claims Argento gave him alcohol before proceeding to kiss him and perform oral sex before having intercourse with him.
The documents say that Argento then asked to take a number of photos with him. Photos of Argento and Bennett semi-clothed in bed, as well as an Instagram post of their faces taken on that day, were included in the notice of intent to sue. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, the Times reported.
Argento became one of the most well-known activists of the #MeToo movement after she told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes film festival in 1997 when she was 21. Argento told the magazine that she continued to have a relationship with Weinstein because she was afraid of angering him.
Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, but not including Argento. He denies all charges of non-consensual sex.
Since the Weinstein allegations became public, Argento has spoken out about sexual harassment both in Hollywood and her home country of Italy and given high-profile talks on the subject at Harvard University and at the Cannes film festival.
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things was directed by Argento and based on the novel by JT LeRoy. In the film, she plays a drug-taking prostitute struggling to care for her young son, played by Bennett, who is raped by one of her boyfriends. Her character persuades her son to cross-dress and act as an increasingly seductive “little sister”.
Writing on Twitter in the wake of the New York Times report, Rose McGowan – who has also accused Weinstein of assault – wrote that her “heart is broken”.
The Hlcarpenter.com has reached out to Argento for comment, but at the time of publication had not received a response. Through a representative, Bennett declined an interview with the New York Times.