In a shocking investigative report, The New York Times has revealed that in April, Italian actress, Asia Argento, discreetly agreed to pay former child actor, Jimmy Bennett, a settlement of $380,000 after he accused her of raping him.
Bennett alleged that the incident happened in 2013 at Argento’s Ritz-Carlton hotel room when he was only 17-years-old. Argento would have been 37 at the time of the rape. The former actor initially filed to sue Argento for $3.5 million in damages on the charges of emotional distress, battery, assault, and lost wages.
Prior to 2013, Bennett had a prosperous career as a child star in Hollywood, starring in films such as The Amityville Horror, Poseidon, Star Trek, Orphan, and Movie 43. He claims that before the assault, his career had earned him $2.7 million, but after the incident, the emotional damage interfered with his ability to work as an actor; bringing his income down to $60,000 annually. In recent years, Bennett has only guest starred on television shows and in independent films. Shortly after the assault, he decided to let acting take the backseat, choosing instead to focus on his music career.
Argento and Bennett first met in 2004, when they starred in a film together called, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. In the film, Argento played a drug addicted prostitute while Bennett (who was 7 at the time) played her son. In the film, she allows him to be raped for drugs. After filming on the movie wrapped, Argento and Bennett remained friends throughout his youth, with the two referring to each other as “mother” and “son.” Bennett stated that on the day of the assault in 2013, Argento had invited him over and he went to her hotel accompanied by his family member. He alleges that during the meeting, Argento asked his family member to leave. Once the two were alone, Argento reportedly gave him alcohol, before eventually taking off his pants and performing oral sex on him. The documents state that after oral sex, Argento took off her clothes and got on top of him, initiating intercourse. After this, Argento reportedly requested that Bennett take photos of the two naked in bed together. Three of the photos still exist and were used as evidence in Bennett’s case.
Bennett filed the lawsuit in November 2017, just a month after the New Yorker published an interview where Argento accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in 1997 at the Cannes Film Festival. After the article’s release, Argento became one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo Movement. The report is a complete contradiction of Argento’s role in sexual assault awareness. In the New Yorker interview, Argento described how the assault by Weinstein was traumatic and destroyed her ability to enjoy oral sex. She stated, “The thing with being a victim is I felt responsible. Because, if I were a strong woman, I would have kicked him in the balls and run away. But I didn’t. And so I felt responsible. I’ve been damaged. Just talking to you about it, my whole body is shaking.” With consideration of Argento’s statements, it is clear that she understands the repercussions of sexual assault, making it harder to understand how she could believe it was okay to take advantage of an underage boy.
The terms of the settlement were finalized in April. Argento agreed to pay Bennett $200,000 upfront, with the remaining $180,000 being paid in the next year and a half. Both parties have chosen not to comment on the matter.
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