Jimmy Bennett, the 22-year-old actor who alleges Asia Argento slept with him when he was underage, is breaking his silence after the shocking accusations surfaced in a New York Times report.
Issuing a statement of his own on Wednesday, Bennett refutes Argento’s statement in which she vehemently denied that she had sex with Bennett when he was just 17. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” said Argento in her statement on Tuesday.
However, Bennett’s statement insists that he did have sex with Argento, who directed him in her 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All” when he was just eight years old.
“I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me,” said Bennett in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “My trauma resurfaced as [Argento] 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.”
According to the Times, Argento, 42, paid Bennett $380,000 to keep silent about their sexual relationship, with the payout taking place within the same timeframe that she became one of the leading voices in the #MeToo movement after her public accusations of being sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.
“I was underage when the event took place,” Bennett continued, “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.”
Bennett’s statement comes after TMZ published text messages allegedly from Argento and leaked photos of Bennett and Argento in bed together.
In the texts, the party alleged to be Argento admits having sex with Bennett but claims she didn’t know he was a minor until after he sent her a “shakedown letter.” In addition, she implies that he was the aggressor.
“The horny kid jumped me,” reads the text. Asked if she was raped, the text replies, “I had sex with him it felt weird.” Another text clarifies that “it wasn’t raped (sic) but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since was 12.” Another text refers to “the extortion I was being threatened with.”
At the time of the alleged sexual encounter, Argento posted a photo of herself and Bennett on Instagram: