Actor and filmmaker Asia Argento today denied having assaulted musician Jimmy Bennett, as reported by the New York Times on Sunday. Argento also denied having paid Bennett Rs $380,000 in April after he approached her through his lawyer over the incident, which allegedly took place in 2013. Bennett was 17 and underage when the alleged assault took place.

Argento is one of the first film celebrities to publicly accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. The New York Times story has cast a shadow over her involvement in the Me Too movement, which was set up to raise awareness about institutionalised sexual violence in Hollywood and beyond.

Argento said that even though the assault never happened, she paid off Bennett through Anthony Bourdain, her boyfriend at the time, so Bennett would stop harassing them.

“I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false,” Argento said in a statement she sent to journalist Yashar Ali. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”

Bennett was trying to extort money from Argento, she claimed, and Bourdain suggested that paying him would shake him off.

“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,” Argento said.

In its response, the New York Times said it stood by its story. “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources,” said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the newspaper. “It is worth noting that Ms. Argento, her lawyer and agent were contacted repeatedly and given four days to respond to the story that published in The Times on Sunday.”