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Weeks after she was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy, Asia Argento has conceded that there was, in fact, a sexual encounter between her and the minor; however, the Italian actress claims she was the victim in the 2013 incident.
On Tuesday, Argento’s attorney Mark Jay Heller released a statement defending his client against the sexual assault allegations. Argento has been accused of assaulting her former co-star Jimmy Bennett when he was still underage. The actress is also accused of attempting to silence Bennett with a $380,000 payout, as reported by the New York Times in August. This information came as a shock to many, as Argento is one of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims, and has become a leading voice within the #MeToo movement.
Heller confirmed Argento did agree to pay Bennett the aforementioned sum; however, the attorney insists that the agreement doesn’t prove that his client is a sexual predator.
Heller’s statement read:
When Bennett learned of the romantic relationship between Asia and Anthony Bourdain and believing that Anthony Bourdain was wealthy and had an outstanding reputation to protect and that they were both vulnerable to embarrassment because they were recognized as early and prominent supporters of the #metoo movement, Bennett chose to intrude on that relationship and demanded a financial payment from Bourdain in consideration for not embarrassing Asia and indirectly Bourdain by virtue of Bourdain’ relationship with Asia.
The attorney insists Argento never wanted to pay Bennett, but Bourdain insisted to foot the bill in an effort to avoid a controversy that could damage their careers. Bourdain, who died by suicide back in June, had reportedly paid Bennett $250,000 out of the $380,000 deal. Heller said Argento would not make further payments.
Asia recognizes that this may very well inspire Bennett to make further false allegations against her and attempt to besmirch her reputation and diminish her credibility in her accusations against Harvey Weinstein. However, Asia’s courage to originally make the accusations against Harvey Weinstein has not waned and she believes that whether or not the Public finally realizes that she did nothing wrong and was herself a victim, that Phase Two of the #metoo movement dictates that the voice of a victim, even one with a history that may be in question, should be heard and she is hopeful that in the Court of Public Opinion it will ultimately be determined that Asia never initiated an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, but rather she was attacked by Bennett and might even be suffering the fallback of a smear campaign by those already accused who may have a vested interest in their accusers being denied credibility.
You can read Heller’s full statement here.
On Wednesday, TMZ reported Bennett intends to file a sexual assault claim against Argento.