Asia Argento is contradicting Jimmy Bennett's claims that she sexually assaulted him in 2013 when he was 17 and she was 37. Instead, through a statement posted by her new lawyer Mark Jay Heller, the actress claims Bennett "sexually attacked" her at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California. This message follows Argento's initial response to his allegation, which she called "absolutely false."
"As revealed in text messages published by TMZ, Asia stated 'The horny kid jumped me…I had sex with him it felt weird,'" the statement reads, referencing texts published on August 22. "She went on to relate that she became 'frozen' when he was on top of her and he told her that she had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12 years old. Asia chose at the time not to prosecute Bennett for sexually attacking her."
As for the $380,000 (£290,000) payment made to Bennett by Anthony Bourdain, first reported by the New York Times, Heller's statement clarifies that the negotiation never forbid Bennett from making a statement about the event or filing a criminal complaint. A representative for Bennett did not respond to Refinery29's request for comment, but in his public statement following the news, Bennett wrote that he did not speak out because he "chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative."
Following Bourdain's death, however, the terms of their agreement have reportedly changed.
"Now that Mr. Bourdain has passed away and is not able to comment on his desire to avoid potential scandal which resulted in his facilitating payment to Bennett, Asia will not permit any portion of the balance of the $380,000 payment to be paid to Bennett who has already received $250,000 from Anthony Bourdain," Heller continued. "Asia recognises 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."
Read the full statement here. Reps for Argento have not responded to Refinery29's requests for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.