Admits over text messages
Argento, 42, became a leading figure for the MeToo campaign after she was one of the first to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse. Now, Jimmy Bennett, a former child actor, has accused her of sexual assault saying she had sex with him in 2013, when he was under the age of consent in California, which is 18.
New York Times first reported the allegations, which led to an initial denial from Argento, who claimed she never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.
However, on Wednesday, TMZ, the celebrity website, revealed text messages between Argento and a friend in which she admitted a sexual encounter. Argento claimed in the text messages that she did not know Bennett was a minor until she received a “shakedown” letter from his lawyer demanding money.
She reportedly wrote: “I had sex with him, it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter. The public know nothing, only what the NYT wrote. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”
She added: “It (sic) wasn’t raped. but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12.”
Argento mentioned how she didn’t report the incident at the time because she felt bad for “this Hollywood failed child actor”.
TMZ also published a photograph of Argento and Bennett together
— CNN (@CNN) August 22, 2018
The existence of the picture had been reported even before it was published it. Argento, in the texts to a friend, said such a picture did not “mean” anything, and was misleading because Bennett was actually standing up. She further wrote how she would move to Africa or the Amazon forest if she loses her job.
TMZ also published an old note from Bennett to Argento which states: “Asia, I love you with all my heart.”
Argento claimed Bennett kept sending her nude images. She mentioned having 80 pages of information on him from a private investigator her boyfriend, the late chef Anthony Bourdain, had hired. She said when the shakedown letter arrived she wanted to talk publicly about being extorted. But Bourdain, wanted to pay Bennett off. Argento agreed to pay $380,000 to Bennett after he threatened to sue her for having sex with a minor. She paid the money after she made public her allegations against Weinstein.
Argento and Bennett first met in 2004. Argento herself cast Bennett, then aged seven, to play her son in “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”.
MeToo survivors demand accountability
Other Hollywood actors, who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, demand accountability of the situation. They believe Argento must be held accountable if allegations against her were true. Mira Sorvino, the Oscar-winning star, said she was “reeling and heartsick”. She added: “Child sexual assault is a heinous crime and is against all that I and the MeToo movement stands for.”
Ashley Judd said sexual violence is wrong and punishable and that should be it regardless of whoever is accused. “Accountability is at the very heart of the MeToo movement. We hold any and every abuser accountable, regardless of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, public visibility or popularity.”
New York Times featured Jimmy Bennett’s full statement:
Many brave women and men have spoken out about their own experiences during the #metoo movement, and I appreciate the bravery that it took for each and every one of them to take such a stand. I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative.
I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy. I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time. Would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.