Italian actress and director Asia Argento reached a financial settlement of $380,000 in April with actor and musician Jimmy Bennett over sexual assault charges, The New York Times reported. Argento was among several prominent actors who had accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment in 2017.
According to the report, the assault took place in 2013. Argento, who played Bennett’s mother in her 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, allegedly kissed Bennett before performing oral sex on him and engaging in intercourse in a hotel room in California when he was two months past his 17th birthday. The age of consent in the American state is 18. Argento was 37 years old at the time.
In a legal notice sent to Argento’s lawyer Richard Hofstetter, Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon Sattro, said that the trauma caused by the events hampered the actor’s work and income and threatened his mental health, the report states. Hofstetter was the lawyer of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who was Argento’s boyfriend at the time. Bourdain killed himself in June.
The report adds that Bourdain “helped” Argento “navigate the matter”. Argento later hired Carrie Goldberg, who has previously represented victims of online abuse.
Sattro sent Argento the legal notice a month after The New Yorker carried a report in October 2017 in which Argento, along with 12 other women, accused Harvey Weinstein of harassment and rape. “I was not willing,” she told The New Yorker about Weinstein. “I said, ‘No, no, no.’ … It’s twisted. A big fat man wanting to eat you. It’s a scary fairy tale.”
In a speech at the Cannes film festival in May this year, Argento claimed that she had been raped by Weinstein during the festival in 1997, when she was 21 years old. Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
According to The New York Times report, seeing Argento “present herself as a victim of sexual assault” was “too much to bear” for Bennett. “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,” Sattro said in the legal notice.
Argento and Bennett did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comments.
Bennett began appearing in television commercials and shows at the age of six. He made his movie debut in 2003 with Steven Carr’s Daddy Day Care. Since then, he has appeared in several films such as Hostage (2005), Poseidon (2006), Evan Almighty (2007), Orphan (2009) and Shorts (2009).