Asia Argento, one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, paid off a young actor and musician who accused her of assault after she went public with her claims against Weinstein, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The Italian actress and director secretly paid $380,000 to former child actor Jimmy Bennett, who was 17 at the time of the alleged encounter in 2013.
Bennett claims Argento sexually assault him in a California hotel room, two months after his 17th birthday and the actress was 37. The age of consent in California is 18.
The actor played Argento’s son in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, which she directed and co-wrote.
The two stayed in touch after production on the film ended.
Bennett alleges Argento assaulted him during a reunion at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey on May 9, 2013.
Legal documents obtained by The Times say the actress gave Bennett alcohol, kissed him, removed his pants and performed oral sex. The documents also say the two had intercourse. According to the paper, Argento took to Instagram the day of the encounter to post a picture of the two together.
“Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox,” the Instagram post said.
According to legal documents obtained by The Times, Argento arranged to pay Bennett off in November 2017.
The documents were sent anonymously via encrypted email and accompanied by a selfie of the two lying together in bed that was dated dated May 9, 2013, the paper said.
A notice of intent to sue was sent to Argento in November, and said Bennett was so traumatized by the “sexual battery” that it hindered his ability to work and income, and threatened his mental health, the paper reported.
The notice asked for $3.5 million in damages for emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.
The documents say Bennett made about $2.7 million in the five years before the 2013 encounter Argento, The Times reported. They go on to claim his income plummeted to $60,000 a year because of trauma after the reunion.
The paper quoted a letter from Argento’s lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, that included a schedule of payments described as “helping Mr. Bennett.”
The paper says Goldberg has not responded to multiple emails requesting comment.
Argento came forward in October 2017 with allegations against Weinstein. In a story published by The New Yorker, she said Weinstein assaulted her at a hotel in France during the Cannes Film Festival in 1997. Weinstein has said their relationship was consensual.
After the story was published, the actress and her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain became leading voices in the #MeToo movement.
The Times says Bourdain helped Argento “navigate” the settlement with Bennett.