Asia Argento is speaking out for the first time since The New York Times reported she had a sexual relationship with a teenager and then paid the $380,000 when his lawyer sent her a notice of intent to file a lawsuit.
'I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article,' states Argento.
'I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.'
She goes on to state that Bennett went after her because of her relationship with Anthony Bourdain, a 'man of great perceived wealth' who 'had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect.'
Argento also claims that it was Bourdain, who took his own life back in June, that urged her to settle in exchange for Bennett's silence.
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Speaking out: Asia Argento claims that she never had sex with her Heart is Deceitful Above All Things costar Jimmy Bennett in a statement on Tuesday (Argento and Bennett above on the day of the alleged sexual assault)
Shakedown: Bennett extorted Argento because he knew her boyfriend Anthony Bourdain was a 'man of great perceived wealth' claims Argento
Musings: On the day of the assault, Argento posted a note with a heart and Bennett's name on Twitter and wrote: 'I cry, I sweat, I pace, I tremble, I am alive' (above)
No comment: Bennett has not spoken since his allegations against Argento were revealed on Sunday night (Bennett above on Monday)
'Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life,' writes Argento in her statement.
She says that at the request of both Bourdain and Bennett, the matter was settled privately
That payout was only a fraction of the $3.5 million that Bennett had requested in the notice.
ASIA ARGENTO SAYS BOURDAIN URGED SEX ASSAULT SETTLEMENT
'I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news.
'I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.
'I was linked to him during several years by friendship only, which ended when, subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett - who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously taken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages - unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me. Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect.
'Antony [sic] insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negativity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions into our life.
'This is, therefore, the umpteeth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution. I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegation and will assume in the short term and all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.'
'This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution,' claims Argento .
'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.'
The statement does not address the photo of Argento naked in bed with Bennett that multiple people had seen and verified according to the Times.
TMZ reports that Argento told Bourdain she was 'too broke' to pay the settlement, and the two referred to Bennett as a 'donkey' in text messages.
These claims were first hinted at by Argento's friends, who took to social media defending the actress.
It all began just an hour after the news broke when Rosanna Arquette tweeted about Harvey Weinstein and suggested he was involved in leaking the story to the Times before going on to claim it was nothing but a set-up and Argento a victim of extortion.
'The monster is at it again,' wrote Arquette on Sunday night, using her nickname for the man she accused of sexually harassing her in a Beverly Hills hotel room back in the mid-90s.
The actress then started defending Arquette on Monday morning in a series of posts.
'I know many many rape and trauma survivors who act out sexually The wounds they carry run deep. I pray for them. the timing of this story is suspect. Asia was still raped by Harvey Weinstein,' wrote Arquette at one point.
She then chimed in following a tweet from Rose McGowan that read: 'None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.'
Arquette replied: 'That's for sure.'
She also responded to a woman who stated: 'I thought we believed accusers? I get this is your friend, but you are talking out of both sides of your mouth right now.'
This question prompted Arquette to state: 'I didn’t say I didn’t I said wait to hear the whole story.'
Arquette also made a number of remarks that suggested the victim, Jimmy Bennett, was not telling the truth.
She called the allegations a 'set up' multiple times, writing at one point: 'Stop until you hear all the facts this is a set up. Extortion is a problem.'
Meeting: Argento and Bennett met when they played a mother and her son in The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Premiere party: Argento and her alleged rapist Weinstein at the premiere of The Heart is Deceitful at Cannes in 2004 (above)
Close encounter: Argento and French journalist Hugo Clement embrace in Rome on June 3 (above) just days before Bourdain's death
Twitter users were quick to call out Arquette, with one writing: 'Rosanna, Millions of sexual assault survivors manage to live their lives without victimizing others. The fastest way to damage this movement is to ignore a victim when the perpetrator is a “hero”. There is no good reason for an adult women to get in bed with a 17 yr old boy.'
Arquette in turn deleted those tweets calling the claims a 'set up' and responded: 'Who’s ignoring him ?'
She also posted a question mark when one woman took issue with Arquette tweeting that 'trauma begets trauma ..until we heal ourselves. we are all on a path to healing ..gratitude for being the beacon that keeps us moving forward.'
The woman responded to this by stating: 'This is in no way an excuse to defend a rapist, only because she was also abused.'
These comments come just two months after Arquette appeared on NPR and in her interview said that fear of retaliation and people questioning accusers' allegations had forced many into silence.
She was not the only actress to speak out on Monday.
'I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere,' wrote McGowan on Twitter early Monday.
She then hinted that there might be more to the story, adding: 'None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.'
McGowan's remarks came hours after the Times reported that Argento had paid actor Jimmy Bennett $380,000 when he filed a notice of intent to sue back in November.
In that notice, Bennett claimed that he was sexually assaulted by Argento in a California hotel room in 2013 when he was 17 and the actress 37, a decade after he first met her on the set of The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.
Bennett was just 7 when he was cast to play the son of Argento's drug-addicted prostitute in the film, based on the popular novel by JT Leroy.
The film also starred Argento's then-boyfriend Michael Pitt, Winona Ryder, and McGowan's former fiancé Marilyn Manson.
Argento has a daughter Anna Lou Castoldi, 17, with singer Marco Castoldi and a 9-year-old son Nicola.
McGowan's remarks come just two months after the Scream star rushed to Europe to be by Argento's side after her boyfriend Anthony Bourdain hanged himself in a French hotel room.
In the wake of the celebrity chef's suicide, McGowan acted as Argento's spokesperson, and even released the actress' first statement on the passing of Bourdain.
The claim that McGowan 'got to know' Argento for 10 months is a bit questionable however, with Argento herself posting a photo of the two on Instagram earlier this year and writing: 'The day we met - March 17th, 2003.'
McGowan and Argento have been at the forefront of the #MeToo for almost a year now after both women claimed to have been sexually assaulted by disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein.
It was Argento who first went public with her story followed by McGowan, who had signed a nondisclosure agreement after receiving a reported $100,000 settlement from Weinstein following allegations that she was sexually assaulted at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival by the then-Miramax head.
Argento was allegedly assaulted the following year by Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival.
Weinstein has denied these allegations.
Bennett's lawyer wrote in the notice that his client was sexually assaulted by Argento back in 2013 after being dropped off by a family member at a Marina del Rey hotel for a visit.
The teenager was unable to drive himself due to an eye condition which prohibits him from obtaining a license in the state of California.
Strong remarks: Rosanna Arquette (above in July) wrote the Asia Argento was being 'set up' and called the payout to her alleged sexual assault victim 'extortion' in since-deleted tweets
Deceitful above all things: Rose McGowan played down her relationship with Argento (pair above in 2003 despite McGowan's claim she only knew Argento for 10 months) after her fellow Harvey Weinstein-accuser was accused of sexually assaulting a teen
Explanation: ''I know many many rape and trauma survivors who act out sexually The wounds they carry run deep. I pray for them. the timing of this story is suspect,' she said
Heartache: 'My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere,' wrote McGowan on Twitter (above)
Caveat: McGowan hinted that there might be more to the story, adding: 'None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle' (above) prompting Arquette to respond: 'That is for sure'
The Times, citing a copy of the notice they were sent by an anonymous source, reported that Argento then sent the family member away and was alone with Bennett in her hotel room.
Argento then gave the minor 'alcohol to drink and showed him a series of notes she had written to him on hotel stationery.'
'Then she kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, removed his pants and performed oral sex,' said the report.
'She climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse,' according to the notice.
'She then asked him to take a number of photos.'
Argento took a number of photos of herself and Bennett after the alleged assault, including one of the two lying naked in bed.
She also posted five photos from the pair's meet-up to her Instagram that day, starting with one of herself in which she wrote: 'Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week.'
In her second post she shared a selfie of herself with Bennett and wrote: 'Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox.'
In that same post, one follower wrote: 'Asia cast him again!! xoxo.'
Argento replied: 'jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack.'
When she was then asked if the film would shot stateside, Argento responded: 'no we shoot the s*** in eye-2-ly 's @jimmymbennett's never been there - yet X.'
Bennett never worked with Argento again however, and then in November filed his notice after the actress' very public condemnation of her alleged rapist, Weinstein.
'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,' stated Bennett's lawyer in the notice.
He then asked for $3.5 million in damages, sighting intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.
The parties agreed to a settlement in April, and one month later Argento appeared at the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival.
In a speech that garnered much praise at the time she said: 'In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old.'
Argento continued: 'Even tonight, sitting among you, there are those who have still to be held accountable for their conduct against women. You know who you are. But most importantly we know who you are. And we're not going allow you to get away with it any longer.'
The actress then said Weinstein was no longer welcome at the festival.
The Italian star told the New Yorker that Weinstein raped her in 1997 at a party hosted by Miramax at the Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc. She claims the mogul led her to an empty room and asked her to give him a massage.
She reluctantly agreed, and halfway through he began to perform oral sex on her after forcibly lifting up her skirt despite her repeated requests for him to stop.
Argento says that she became suspicious when the party she arrived at was just an empty hotel room, but was assured that people would soon be arriving by Weinstein.
Then, he emerged from the bathroom in a robe and holding a bottle of lotion says the actress, who was just 21 at the time.
'He asks me to give a massage. I was, like, 'Look man, I am no f***ing fool,'' said Argento.
'But, looking back, I am a f***ing fool. And I am still trying to come to grips with what happened.'
The actress, who is the daughter of famed Italian director Dario Argento, said that once Weinstein began performing oral sex on her there was no way for her to stop him because he was so much bigger than her.
'It wouldn't stop. It was a nightmare,' said Argento, who eventually decided to pretend she was enjoying the act in hopes that it would end.
When it was over, Argento said she said on the bed and told her attacker: 'I am not a whore.'
He laughed at her and said he would put that on a shirt according to Argento, who said that Weinstein contacted her for months after the attack and even began offering her expensive gifts.