Asia Argento, Who Accused Harvey Weinstein of Rape, Allegedly Paid Off Male Accuser: Report
Citing documents sent to the newspaper anonymously and verified with three people familiar with the case, the report says that in the months after her allegations against Weinstein last October, the 42-year-old Italian actress reached a financial settlement with Jimmy Bennett, who once played Argento’s son in 2004’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. (Argento also directed and co-wrote the film.)
The actor and musician, now 22, claimed that in 2013, then-37-year-old Argento sexually assaulted Bennett in a California hotel room two months after he turned 17, the report says. (In California, 18 is the age of consent.)
Bennett claimed in the documents that Argento kissed him before performing oral sex on him and engaging in intercourse at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California, according to the Times.
An agent for Argento did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, and the Times says Argento and her reps did not respond to multiple requests leading up to the story’s publication on Sunday.
Reps for Bennett did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Though he declined an interview with the Times, the outlet reports that Gordon K. Sattro, Bennett’s attorney, told the newspaper, “In the coming days Jimmy will continue doing what he has been doing over the past months and years, focusing on his music.”
Argento’s late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain — who died of suicide on June 8 — “helped Ms. Argento navigate the matter,” the Times reports, though additional details about his involvement were not available.
As part of the settlement, Bennett forfeited the copyright to a selfie from May 9, 2013 — which was among the documents the Times says it received — of Bennett and Argento lying in bed, according to the Times.
Bennett’s notice of intent to sue — sent in November to Richard Hofstetter, a lawyer for both Argento and Bourdain — asked Argento for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault, and battery, according to the Times.
Sattro wrote in the notice of intent that Bennett’s “feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein,” the Times reports.
In April, Argento’s attorney lawyer Carrie Goldberg reportedly wrote Argento about the agreement and payment plan in an email obtained by the Times, describing the money as “helping Mr. Bennett.”
“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg wrote, according to the Times. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among s—ty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”
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Argento is one of the over 60 women who have accused disgraced movie mogul Weinstein of sexual assault, harassment, and rape. In October, she alleged in a New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 1997.
“I was not willing,” she told Farrow of Weinstein. “I said, ‘No, no, no.’ … It’s twisted. A big fat man wanting to eat you. It’s a scary fairy tale.”
Argento also told Farrow that she had “consensual sexual relations with [Weinstein] multiple times over the course of the next five years” after the alleged assault. She described the incidents as “one-sided and ‘onanistic,’” Farrow wrote, and worried Weinstein would “ruin her career if she didn’t comply.”
A spokesperson for Weinstein previously told PEOPLE in a statement that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
After the New Yorker story was published in October, Bourdain tweeted to his girlfriend, “I am proud and honored to know you. You just did the hardest thing in the world.”
“In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes,” Argento said at the Cannes Film Festival’s Closing Ceremony earlier this year. “I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground.”
She later added: “Even tonight sitting among you there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women, for behavior that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry or workplace. You know who you are, but most importantly, we know who you are and we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.”