Actress Asia Argento responded to statutory rape claims made by actor Jimmy Bennett in a statement sent to reporter Yashar Ali Tuesday, writing that she “never had any sexual relationship” with Bennett.
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news,” Asia Argento wrote. “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
Argento claims in the statement that Bennett was having “severe economic problems” and thus “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me,” assuming that her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain had the money to help him.
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) August 21, 2018
“Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us,” Argento continues, before claiming that Bourdain made the six-figure payment to Bennett. “We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
Finally, Argento, a prominent figure in the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement, wrote that Bennett has subjected her to “a long-standing persecution” and that she “has no other choice but to oppose such false allegations.”
In a recent New York Times report, Argento was accused of paying Bennett a settlement of $380,000 in response to his claim that she had a sexual encounter with him when she was 37-years-old and he was 17, which is under the age of consent in California.
News broke yesterday that Argento is not under criminal investigation, however, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department detectives plan to contact Bennett regarding his assault claims.