Police Consider Investigating Sexual Assault Claim Against Asia Argento
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is “aware” of the sexual assault allegations made against Asia Argento by her former costar, Jimmy Bennett
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is aware of the media reports naming Asia Argento as being involved in an alleged 2013 incident in an area policed by our Marina Del Rey Station,” the department said in a statement released on Nixle.
While the department has not received an official complaint, they did make it clear they were trying to reach out to Bennett.
“To date, the LASD has not located any police report alleging criminal activity within our jurisdiction in relation to this incident,” it continued. “After becoming aware of the allegations, the LASD’s Special Victims Bureau is attempting to reach out to the reported victim and/or his representatives in an effort to appropriately document any potential criminal allegations.”
According to a stunning report by The New York Times on Sunday, Argento agreed to pay $380,000 to Bennett, 22, who claimed the actress sexually assaulted him in 2013 in a California hotel room two months after he turned 17. (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.
Argento made headlines late last year when she accused disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting, harassing and raping her. In October 2017, she alleged in a New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 1997.
Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Braffman told PEOPLE in a statement Monday the “development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein.”
“What is perhaps most egregious, is the timing, which suggests that at the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years,” he continued.
“The sheer duplicity of her conduct is quite extraordinary and should demonstrate to everyone how poorly the allegations against Mr. Weinstein were actually vetted and accordingly, cause all of us to pause and allow due process to prevail, not condemnation by fundamental dishonesty,” Braffman added.
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 reported 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.”
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.
Argento’s late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain — who died of suicide on June 8— “helped Ms. Argento navigate the matter,” the Times reported, though additional details about his involvement were not available.
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 reported.
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Of her own experiences with Weinstein, Argento told Farrow she “was not willing.”
“I said, ‘No, no, no.’ … It’s twisted. A big fat man wanting to eat you. It’s a scary fairy tale,” she said.
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.”