Asia Argento’s lawyer has said that the actress will not pay the remainder of a $380,000 settlement to Jimmy Bennett, the former child actor who claims that she sexually assaulted him.
Bennett has already received $250,000 of the sum, which is claimed was in relation to an incident in 2013, when Bennett was 17.
“Her relationship with Bennett was never sexual, but rather the relationship was a long distance friendship over many years,” said attorney Mark Jay Heller (via The Wrap).
“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.”
In a report published in the New York Times, Bennett, who first met Argento when he played her young son in the 2004 movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things’, said that she sexaully assaulted him in a hotel in California in 2013.
He was 17 at the time, under the legal age of consent in California, while Argento was 37.
Argento has denied the accusations, but has said that she and her then boyfriend, the late Anthony Bourdain, agreed to settle the issue privately out of court.
“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.
“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,” Argento said in a statement.
“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.”
Her lawyer added that she does not intend to try and have Bennett prosecuted for making the claims against her.
Since the accusations, CNN has pulled old episodes of Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown which feature Argento.
She has been dropped from the judging panel of the Italian version of The X Factor.