Hollywood 2018: Argento, Asia–When the Accuser Becomes the Accused

According to documents obtained by the N.Y. Times, leading #MeToo advocate Asia Argento settled an accusation of sexual assault from former child actor and musician Jimmy Bennett for the sum of $380,000 to be paid over the course of a year and a half.

Argento, who’s an actress and director, has yet to comment, but the story is already making waves in the media and cultural worlds.

The claim and resulting payment are included in documents between the lawyers for Argento and Bennett. The claim states Bennett was a little over 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault, which took place in a California hotel room in 2013 when Argento was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18.

As part of the agreement, Bennett, who is now 22, gave a selfie of he and Argento in bed and its copyright to Argento, now 42. Three people familiar with the case told the “New York Times” that the documents were authentic.

The lawyer for Argento who handled the settlement, Carrie Goldberg, in the documents described the money as “helping Mr. Bennett.” But that’s a vague and evasive statement that needs to become sharper and more precise.

“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg wrote. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among s—-y individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”

Bennett’s initial intent to sue was for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery. Bennett did not sign a non-disclosure agreement, in part because California law prohibits NDAs in civil cases that contain claims like Bennett’s. In the documents, Goldberg writes that Argento could work around the California law by using New York lawyers and claiming New York law governs the contract, but Argento opted not to pursue that course.

Argento was one of the 13 women included in the first October 2017 New Yorker report about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault that dated back decades.

As director, Argento cast Bennett as her son in her movie.

Bennett has appeared in several films, including “Daddy Day Care” and in Argento’s own film, “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things,” in which he played her son. More recently he had a role on “Bosch.”

He claimed that after the incident with Argento, his work suffered and his income went from more than $2.7 million in the five years before the 2013 incident to less than $60,000 a year after.