Jimmy Bennett, the young actor who alleged in legal documents that actress Asia Argento sexually assaulted him when he was 17 says his trauma resurfaced when Argento came out as a victim of sexual assault herself.
“I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me,” Bennett, now 22, said in a statement released Wednesday through Attorney Gordon K. Sattro. The statement is Bennet's first public comment since a Sunday New York Times story saying Argento reached a legal settlement with him last year over an alleged sexual assault in a California hotel room in 2013. The age of consent in California is 18.
Entertainment website TheWrap.com posted more of Bennett's statement: “I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy. I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time. I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.”
His comments come a day after Argento denied having a sexual relationship with Bennett, whom she agreed to pay $380,000 in a settlement. TMZ.com, however, published a photo of Argento and Bennett in bed together along with various text messages the site said were between Argento and a friend in which the actress mentions having had an encounter with the young actor.
"I had sex with him it felt weird," says one message. "I didn't know he was a minor until the shakedown letter."
On Tuesday, Argento said in a statement that she had been linked "in friendship only" to Bennett, who played her son in a film in 2004.
The acctress also stated that the $380,000 payment to Bennet had been undertaken by her boyfriend, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, to protect his reputation.
"Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life," Argento said in a statement.
Bourdain, the star of CNN's "Parts Unknown" committed suicide in France in June. He was 61.
The 42-year-old Argento has been a key figure in the #MeToo movement since alleging last year that Harvey Weinstein raped her when she was 21. Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, but not including Argento. He has denied the allegations.
On Wednesday, Argento also backed out of curating an upcoming Dutch music festival.
Organizers of the Nov. 8-10 "Le Guess Who?" festival said in a statement Wednesday that "due to the volatile nature of the accusations surrounding Ms. Argento, she has chosen to withdraw from her curatorship of this year's edition, while these issues remain open."