Two days after shocking accusations, the # MeToo leader and Harvey Weinstein prosecutor Asia Argento went into sex with a minor boy and paid him soft money, the Italian actress finally responded: "I strongly deny" the claim, she said in a statement.
Her statement appeared Tuesday on Twitter, posted by Yashar Ali, writer of the New York magazine. She denounced the accusations, threatened legal action and regretted that she was the victim of long-term prosecution & # 39 ;.
"I am deeply shocked and hurt by reading news that is absolutely false," her statement began. "I never had a sexual relationship with (Jimmy) Bennett."
Argento's statement said that her late friend, Anthony Bourdain, her accuser & # 39; dangerous & # 39; found, but decided that Bennett's money needs & # 39; compassion & # 39; was worthy.
She said that Bourdain, who committed suicide in June, helped pay Bennett $ 380,000.
Bennett, a former actor-turned-rock musician who is now 22, had just turned 17 when he claimed that he and Argento, then 37, had had sex in a hotel room in Marina del Rey at LAX in 2013, according to an amazing New York Times story posted Sunday.
According to the article, the story was based on an encrypted e-mail that the reporter received from an unknown source; it contained documents about the settlement between Argento and Bennett and her lawyer about his claim for compensation, and included a selfie of the two in bed.
New episodes of "Parts Unknown" by Anthony Bourdain will be broadcast in the fall, according to the Los Angeles Times. (Photo: Richard Shotwell / Invision / AP)
According to the story, Bennett approached Argento in 2017 shortly after revealing her accusation that Weinstein had raped her, becoming one of the first women to do so. She called the whole world attention to herself and helped to stir up the movement of #MeToo to proclaim sexual abuse of powerful men in different industries, especially in Hollywood.
Bennett and Argento were former castmates in a 2004 film that she wrote, directed and played; Bennett was 7 and was cast as her son in the film.
Argento, who refused to comment on the Times when the story was published and did NOT return calls from the US on Monday, depicted Bennett as an opportunist and desperately needed money after he had sued his own relatives for allegedly wrongly dealing with money he deserved a child actor.
Argento acknowledged in her statement that she & # 39; with & # 39; Bennett & # 39; connected & # 39; was by & # 39; only friendship & # 39 ;. That ended when her role in Weinstein's accusation became public in October 2017 when Bennett "unexpectedly made an exorbitant request for money from me".
Her statement said that Bennett knew Bourdain and & # 39; saw & # 39; that he had a rich reputation to protect.
"Anthony insisted that the case was handled privately, and this was also what Bennett wanted," the statement said. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have robbed us.
"We have decided to act compassionately with Bennett's request for help and to give it to him, and Anthony has personally agreed to help Bennett economically, provided that we would not suffer any further burglaries in our lives."
Argento's statement, which was originally written in Italian, said that this latest development "of a succession of events" yields its "great sadness and lengthy persecution".
She said she had no choice but to "oppose such false accusations" and "seek all necessary initiatives" for my protection for all competent locations. "
So far, Argento's lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, has not publicly responded to the allegations, even though the encrypted e-mail that the Times said received private messages between the lawyer and her client.
Bennett's lawyer, Gordon Sattro, also refused to comment and said that his client would continue to focus on his music.
But the allegations against Argento already have some consequences. The # MeToo movement was then stunned by the story of the Times hastened to reassure supporters that the movement is bigger than one prosecutor or one story.
But if the alleged meeting between Argento and Bennett had indeed taken place, it was a crime and the status of California's restrictions on sexual abuse of children is not gone yet.
The Los Angeles County sheriff department, Marina del Rey's police station, said Monday that no report has been filed, but detectives are aware of the reports and are investigating the case.
"To date, the LASD has not found any police report on criminal activities within our jurisdiction with regard to this incident," according to a statement made by Capt. Darren Harris from the information desk of the sheriff has been posted online. "The LASD Special Victim Bureau tries to reach the reported victim and / or its representatives in an effort to document possible criminal charges in an appropriate manner."
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