Asia Argento, one of the first actresses to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, paid $380,000 to settle a potential lawsuit in a stunning #MeToo Movement reversal, involving her own sexual assault of a 17-year-old child actor five years ago.
Child actor Jimmy Bennett, accused the actress and director of assaulting him in 2013 in a California hotel room two months after he turned 17-years-old. She was 37 at the time, according to The New York Times.
The age of consent in California is 18.
Argento was one of 13 actresses who publicly accused Weinstein of sex assault last November in another New York Times expose.
The story and similar piece in The New Yorker magazine rocked Hollywood and ended Weinstein’s career. He’s now facing criminal prosecution in New York City for allegedly raping an actress.
His downfall launched the #MeToo movement.
In all, Weinstein, 66, was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women, including A-list actresses, over the course of his career as one of the most powerful moguls in Hollywood.
Among those who have spoken out are model Cara Delevingne and actresses Rose McGowan, Eva Green, Daryl Hannah, Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale.
Argento has been an outspoken member of the movement. She condemned Weinstein in a moving speech at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
But at the same time she was making accusations against him, she was quietly settling a potential lawsuit threatened by Bennett. The Times obtained legal documents laying out the deal.
The documents were sent to the newspaper anonymously and included non-sexual photos taken in the hotel room.
Bennett met Argento when he was a 7-year-old child actor. He appeared with her in the 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” She played a drug addicted prostitute and he play her son.
The two kept in touch via social media and referred to each other as “mother and son.”
On May 9, 2013, Argento arranged to meet Bennett in her room at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, Calif., and wasn’t secretive about it. “Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation #marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week,” she wrote on Instagram.
Bennett arrived with a family member, but Argento asked to be alone with the boy and the family member left.
After she plied him with alcohol, “she kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, removed his pants and performed oral sex,” The Times reported. “She climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse,” and they took a number of selfies together.
Following the rendezvous, Argento crowed about the meeting on Instagram, posting a photo of them with the caption: “Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox. jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack.”
The two still continued to communicate, but Bennett felt it was “too much to bear” to see Argento present herself as the victim of sexual assault.
“His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein,” his lawyer wrote in a notice of intent to sue that led to the settlement and payment.
Bennett, now 22, has reportedly fallen on hard times. He’s acting jobs have dried up and he’s shifted his career to music. “Jimmy will continue doing what he has been doing over the past months and years, focusing on his music.” the lawyer told The Times.
He claimed the hotel room “sexual battery” was so traumatic it hindered his ability to work and affected his mental health.
Argento, now 42, whose father, Dario Argento, is a noted Italian director, now lives in Rome.