Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Italian actress and director Asia Argento, a figure in the #MeToo movement after accusing producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, agreed to pay $380,000 in a settlement to a young man who said he was sexually assaulted by her, according to The New York Times.
The victim was rock actor and musician Jimmy Bennett, who reported being sexually assaulted by Argento in 2013 in a California hotel, according to the newspaper. In that state, the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 18. Bennett had worked with Argento playing his son in a movie.
The agreement would have been reached in the months following the revelations on the Weinstein case in October last year. In a letter dated April to Argento confirming the final details of the agreement and the payment schedule, the actress’s lawyer referred to the money as ‘help for Mr. Bennett’.
“We hope it never happens to you again,” attorney Carrie Goldberg wrote to her client, “you’re a powerful and inspiring artist and it’s miserable that you live surrounded by shitty individuals who have taken advantage of your strengths and weaknesses.
For the young actor, who as a child captivated Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis, that 2013 meeting was “a spiral of emotional problems,” reports the New York Times, citing the contents of the documents. According to the information, it was so traumatic that it hampered Bennett’s work, so his lawyers were initially seeking $3.5 million in damages because his mental state had affected his income.
The New York newspaper assures that it has had access to the accusations of the young actor and to the subsequent financial agreement reached by Argento and Bennett’s lawyers, who are now 22 years old, through documents that have been sent to them anonymously. These documents, which were sent via encrypted mail, include a selfie photograph, dated May 9, 2013, of the two actors lying in bed, reports Efe.
The newspaper adds that it has tried “repeatedly” to contact those involved in this issue without success. However, Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, told the newspaper that his client would not agree to be interviewed about it and that he would “continue to do what he has been doing in recent months and years: focus on his music.
“A traumatic sexual assault”
Bennett was 17 when the alleged incident with the then 37-year-old actress occurred. Bennett’s lawyers described the meeting at the hotel as a “sexual assault” that traumatized their client, threatened his mental health, and called for compensation of 3.3 million euros.
For Bennett, seeing Argento present herself as a victim of sexual harassment was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It made him relive that episode in 2013, of which there is even a photo left on the actress’s Instagram profile. “What he felt that day came back when Argento became the voice of Harvey Weinstein’s victims,” Bennett’s lawyer said in the complaint document.
For Bennett, the Italian actress was both a mentor and a mother, and they had a certain amount of contact since they met in 2004 during the filming of The Heart is Liar, which she directed and starred in with him. The argument revolved around the relationship between a drug-addicted prostitute (Asia Argento) and her son (Jimmy Benett), and the relationship between them revolved around this mother-child relationship. Until May 9, 2013, she wrote on Instagram: “Waiting for my long-lost child Jimmy Bennett”, with a selfie at the door of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey, California. He replied, “I am coming”.
The New York Times’ account of the events recalls that the actor arrived in the room with a family member because of a vision problem that prevents him from driving. Argento asked the companion to leave them alone, gave him alcohol to drink and showed him some notes he had written for them. Then she kissed him, pushed him to bed, took off his pants and gave him oral sex. Finally, she climbed on top of him and they had a sexual relationship. She also asked for some photos to be taken and shared on social networks.
In the image that came to the newspaper along with the anonymous documentation, you can see them both with their torso uncovered. After the episode in the hotel room, they ate lunch together and, on the way home, Bennett began to feel “extremely confused, mortified and upset. A month later, however, she sent Argento a Twitter message with a picture of a bracelet she gave her that said, “I miss you, Mommy.”
Financial and family problems
Bennett’s life wasn’t easy back then. Around the time of his meeting with Argento, he had confronted his mother and stepfather in court, whom he accused of having thrown him out of the family home, of having stolen his possessions and of having appropriated, over the years, at least one and a half million dollars of his savings. Bennett was broke at the time and owed two months’ rent.
The financial agreement recently reached by the actors does not prevent the young person from making what happened public, but it does prevent him from demanding it. Nor would I be allowed, after accepting the money, to publish the photo of both of them. According to the New York Times, and although it is not known if both have spoken since the signing of the agreement, Argento would have given him a “like” on Instagram to a selfie of the actor in which he appeared caressed.
Asia Argento became a powerful voice in the #MeToo movement after accusing Weinstein of raping her in a hotel during the 1997 Cannes Film Festival when she was 21.
At the close of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the actress told the audience: “Things have changed. We’re not going to let them get away with this.
(Taken from El Mundo)