Asia Argento is being slammed by her accuser’s lawyer for her “victim-shaming” statement in which she revealed her intention not to pay the rest of the settlement they agreed upon.
Jimmy Bennett accused Argento of sexual assault stemming from a 2013 incident in a hotel room in California when he was 17 and the actress was 37. Argento, now 42, denied the allegation and instead accused Bennett, now 22, of attacking her and “initiating” the sexual contact in a statement released earlier this week by her new lawyer, Mark Jay Heller.
Bennett’s lawyer Gordon K. Sattro released a statement to PEOPLE in response. Argento’s lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“This situation has escalated due to Asia’s offensive and dismissive interpretation of this situation in whole…We read this statement as a self-serving and slanderous one which is offensive, not only to my client, but in all likelihood to victims both silent and outspoken, everywhere,” the statement read. “It would seem that Asia is implying that her truth is the actual truth because of her perceived position in this all too important movement and a delusional view of her own importance to it.”
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The statement continued, “It should be made clear that Asia’s attacks on my client’s character have no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013, and the statements in her most recent letter are seemingly crafted with the intent to intimidate, shame, and insult our client back into silence. This is a familiar tactic which has been criticized by the #MeToo movement repeatedly over the past year. In Hollywood, the one thing that has never and will never be condoned, or tolerated, is the abuse of child actors.”
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In her statement, Argento’s lawyer announced “phase two” of the #MeToo movement where victims who have a “negative history” can still feel empowered to come forward.
In response, Bennett’s lawyer said, “Representing Asia as launching Phase Two of the #MeToo movement…while victim-shaming my client in the same statement is ludicrous in the highest regard. Asia has yet to realize that successful women can also be among those who prey on the vulnerable. Predators are not limited to a single sex.”
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His lawyer also expressed their intention to seek the rest of the $ 380,000 settlement that had not been paid. Argento’s lawyer announced in her statement that they didn’t intend to pay the rest of the settlement, which was agreed upon when her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain was alive.
“With the above in mind, we have decided that we are going to secure the balance of funds due under the legally enforceable agreement between Jimmy and Asia and we will be cooperating with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department,” Bennett’s lawyer said. “Upon securing the outstanding funds owed, Jimmy will be donating the entirety of it to the #MeToo movement.”
According to a report by The New York Times, Argento agreed to pay $ 380,000 to Bennett, who claimed the actress sexually assaulted him in 2013 in a California hotel room two months after he turned 17. (In California, 18 is the age of consent.)
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Bennett claimed in the documents that Argento kissed him before performing oral sex on him and engaging in intercourse at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California, according to the Times. Argento denied the allegations, saying she had never had a sexual relationship with the former young actor.
In the texts released by TMZ, Argento allegedly denies knowing Bennett was a minor until he contacted her and Bourdain last fall following her public accusations against Harvey Weinstein. She also allegedly says she “felt weird” after the two had sex and pointed out that the legal age of consent is 15 in France and Italy.
“The public knows nothing, only what NYT wrote. Which is one sided,” she allegedly wrote in the text, according to TMZ. “The horny kid jumped me.”
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