Asia Argento posted a photo of her and accuser Jimmy Bennett on Instagram around the time the incident allegedly happened.
Yesterday, actress Asia Argento strongly denied accusations that she sexually assaulted a former co-star when he was underage, instead claiming that her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, paid her accuser out of compassion. “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false,” she wrote. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
However, TMZ has now published a photo purportedly showing Argento naked in bed with then 17-year-old Jimmy Bennett. And they also published various text messages between Argento and a friend in which she “flat-out says she had sex with him.”
Asia Argento and 17-Year-Old Boy in Bed in Sexual Encounter https://t.co/y6EeKOdPT7
— TMZ (@TMZ) August 22, 2018
TMZ writes that the photo above was one of four pics that Bennett, now 22, took in a Marina del Rey hotel room back in 2013. They add: “The then 37-year-old Argento and Bennett are on a bed shirtless, their heads on a pillow and their arms entangled. Sources tell TMZ the pic was taken after the 2 had intercourse. It’s a crime in California for an adult to have sex with a person under 18.”
They also published a series of text messages allegedly between Argento and an unidentified friend from this week: “I had sex with him it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter,” one message reads. “The public knows nothing, only what the NYT wrote. Which is one sided. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”
Also included in the text exchange was a photo of a note Bennett allegedly wrote her on Ritz-Carlton stationery reading, “Asia, I love you with all my heart. So glad we met again and I’m so glad your in my life. Jimmy.” Argento sent that to the friend and added, “He wrote me this afterwards and kept sending me unsolicited nudes all these years up until 2 weeks before the attorneys letter…It wasn’t raped [sic] but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since was 12.”
On Sunday, the NY Times reported that Argento had paid $380,000 to Bennett, who once played her son in a movie, right in the midst of her publicly accusing movie producer Harvey Weinstein of assaulting her. The Times received legal documents and correspondence related to Argento’s settlement with Bennett “through encrypted email by an unidentified party, includ[ing] a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed… Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic.”
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 21, 2018
Vox points out that Argento’s statement yesterday shares uncomfortable parallels with statements made by high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement. The LA Times argues that despite the fact Argento “settled a lawsuit with a person who accused her of perpetrating the very abuse she campaigned against,” it does not invalidate her claims against Weinstein, or in any way invalidate the #MeToo movement.
Argento has withdrawn from curating Dutch music festival Le Guess Who? in the wake of the story. “Due to the volatile nature of the accusations surrounding Ms. Argento, she has chosen to withdraw from her curatorship of this year’s edition, while these issues remain open,” said the festival in a statement.
Dozens of woman have accused Weinstein of harassment, intimidation, sexual assault and rape since last fall. He has been charged with rape and sexual assault in NYC. And today, actress Emma Loman filed a lawsuit against him alleging he raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.