Italian actress Asia Argento, one of the first individuals to come forward and bring accusations of sexual abuse against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, quietly settled a sexual assault claim brought against her by a former child star.
Argento agreed to pay Jimmy Bennett, who played her son in the 2004 film The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, $380,000 in response to accusations from the actor. Bennett claimed she sexually assaulted him during a 2013 encounter in her California hotel room, according to The New York Times.
Bennett, an actor and musician living in Los Angeles, filed a notice of intent to sue Argento in 2017 for $3.5 million in damages for "intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault, and battery." In his notice, the actor claimed Argento provided him with alcohol and sexually assaulted him during the 2013 encounter. He said the assault occurred when Bennett was only two months past his 17th birthday and Argento was 37. In California, the age of consent is 18.
Argento settled the suit for $380,000, agreeing to pay Bennett the sum over the course of a year and a half, with an initial payment of $200,000. The final agreement did not prevent either party from discussing the accusations or the settlement.
The actress's decision to settle came months after her own revelations about Weinstein helped spark the #MeToo movement.
In October 2017, Argento opened up to Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker about the sexual assault she faced at the hands of Weinstein beginning in 1997. The abuse, which lasted years in Argento's case, was chronicled alongside the voices of nine other women abused by Weinstein. At the time, Argento told Farrow she had remained silent about Weinstein for fear the mogul, who prior to his fall was one of the most successful film producers in Hollywood, would "crush" her.
"I know he has crushed a lot of people before," Argento said. "That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old, some of them are older—has never come out."
Since speaking out about her abuse, Argento has vocally addressed sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment industry and other spheres of public life.
On Monday, Rose McGowan, another victim of Weinstein who has emerged as a leader in the #MeToo movement, took to social media to say her "heart is broken" over the unfolding story surrounding Argento.
"I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein," McGowan tweeted. "My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere."
I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) August 20, 2018