California police are investigating the sexual assault allegations reportedly made by a young actor against Asia Argento.
The Italian actress, 42, who is a leading figure in the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse, made headlines when the New York Times published a report alleging that she had agreed to pay $380,000 (£296,000) to former child actor and musician Jimmy Bennett after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in a California hotel room when he was 17.
In a statement on Monday (20Aug18) Captain Darren Harris of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced that detectives from the force’s Special Victims Bureau want to talk to Bennett or his representatives about the alleged incident. Harris wrote that his officers could not locate any police report referring to the matter but are determined to “appropriately document any potential criminal allegations”.
The Times story claimed that in April Argento paid $200,000 (£155,000) in respect of $380,000 (£296,000) she agreed to pay to settle a notice of intent to sue Bennett filed shortly after she went public with her claim that Harvey Weinstein raped her last October. She and the 22-year-old were castmates in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things – in which she played his mother, a prostitute.
In legal documents obtained by the newspaper, Bennett claimed the actress “performed oral sex” and “had intercourse” with him in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, California in May 2013 – and that the encounter had traumatized him and damaged his career. The age of consent in California is 18.
A lawyer for the ex-child star told the Associated Press he “does not wish to comment on the documents or the events” until he had taken time to prepare a response. Argento has not publicly addressed the allegations.
The xXx actress became one of the faces of the #MeToo movement when she told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes film festival in 1997. The disgraced movie mogul, who has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, not including Argento, denies any allegations of non-consensual sex.
On Monday his lawyer, Ben Brafman slammed the actress, accusing her of “hypocrisy” in a statement to TMZ.com, for allegedly arranging to settle with Bennett in private while publicly condemning Weinstein.
– Cover Media0