Asia Argento accuser Jimmy Bennett says he was 'ashamed' and 'afraid' to come out as a sexual assault victim earlier
Jimmy Bennett has finally come out to address his sexual assault accusations against Asia Argento in a statement
Jimmy Bennett, the man who accused Asia Argento of sexually assaulting him, has finally come out with a statement addressing the recent New York Times exposé on the actress. Bennett was 17 at the time and says he was afraid to come out because of fear and embarrassment.
In the statement that was reported by TMZ, he said: "I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be a part of the public narrative."
"At the time, I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society," he continued. "I didn't think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy. I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence."
The New York Times broke the story that, ironically, the #MeToo movement leader had paid Bennett a settlement of $380,000 after sexually assaulting him in 2013. According to documents, Bennett, who had appeared alongside Argento in 2004's 'The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things,' had claimed that the assault took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Ray, California.
The actress reportedly got Bennett drunk and performed oral sex then had intercourse with him, and because the legal age of consent in the state is 18, the act was a crime.
The documents obtained by the Times alleged that the incident was 'traumatic' for Bennett and that it ultimately contributed to emotional stress and a decline in work and income for the actor.
"We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again," Carrie Goldberg, Argento's lawyer wrote in an April letter characterizing the settlement as "helping Mr. Bennett." "You are a powerful and inspiring creator, and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among shitty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses."
However, Argento responded to the allegations by suggesting that the 'settlement' was made by her late partner Anthony Bourdain to help Bennett with his 'severe economic problems.' In her statement, she said: "I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."
She said she and Bennett were "linked in friendship only" and that the actor came out with his claims only after she came out with the accusations against Harvey Weinstein.
"Subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett — who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages – unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me," she said.
Argento also claimed that she and Bourdain made the payment to avoid any negative publicity. She said, "Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect. Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately, and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a 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, on the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life," she concluded.