Actress and director Asia Argento is currently being accused of sexually assaulting a rock singer and former child actor Jimmy Bennett when he was 17.
According to New York Times, Bennett claimed Argento assaulted him in a California hotel room in 2013, just two months after his 17th birthday. Argento was 37 at the time, and the age of consent in California is 18.
Argento, one of the accusers of Harvey Weinstein had, in October, after several women came forward with reports of sexual assault against Weinstein, allegedly quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to Bennett, a document seen by New York Times revealed.
Bennett at age 7, had starred as Argento’s son in 2004 movie “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” which Argento directed and co-wrote.
The documents, sent to New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party, include a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed.
In mail exchanges between lawyers and clients, New York Times reports that Carrie Goldberg, Argento’s lawyer, said the $380,000 was for “helping Mr. Bennett.”
“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again. You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among shitty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses,” Goldberg was quoted as saying.
Bennett, the article revealed, described the experience as “sexual battery” which was so traumatic that it hindered his work and income in the following years.
This was contained in an intent to sue document sent to Argento’s lawyer at the time (November 2017) Richard Hofstetter.
According to the document, on May 9, 2013, the day the alleged assault took place, Argento and Bennett exchanged messages on social media:
Argento had said on Instagram: “Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week.”
Bennett responded, “I’m almost there!:)”
Bennett was said to have arrived the hotel room with a family member as he couldn’t drive because of an eye condition.
Argento allegedly asked the family member to leave and she gave him alcohol, then showed him some notes she had written to him. She went ahead to kiss him, the document disclosed, adding that she performed oral sex on him and they both had intercourse.
She then asked him to take a number of photos, New York Times said. She later posted a close-up of their faces and wrote: “Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox…jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack.”
The notice of intent also had photos that show Bennett and Argento in bed, their unclothed torsos exposed, according to New York Times.
Bennett was “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted” after the incident, the notice said.
According to the notice, Argento and Bennett agreed to the $380,000 paying which will be done over the course of a year and a half with an initial payment of $200,000 made in April.
The New York Times reports that:
The agreement does not prevent either party from discussing it. In the letter, Ms. Goldberg explained that California law does not allow nondisclosure agreements in civil contracts involving the types of allegations made by Bennett.
One alternative, Goldberg wrote, would be to work around the California law by using New York lawyers and arguing that the laws of New York govern the agreement.
In a letter to Argento after the agreement, Goldberg wrote:
Ultimately, you decided against the non-disclosure language because you felt it was inconsistent with the public messages you’ve conveyed about the societal perils of non-disclosure agreements.
Bennett could theoretically tell people his claims against you. However, under this agreement, he cannot sue you for them. Nor can he post the photo of the two of you.
At the very least, he is not permitted to bother you for more money, disparage you or sue — so long as you comply with your obligations in the agreement.
Photo Credit: Simona Granati – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images