Weinstein accuser Asia Argento paid teen who made sex assault claim — report
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Weinstein accuser Asia Argento paid teen who made sex assault claim — report

Jimmy Bennett says Italian actress attacked him in a California hotel room in 2013, when he was 17; received $380,000 in hush money

In this file photo taken on May 19, 2018 Italian actress Asia Argento arrives for the closing ceremony and the screening of the film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. (AFP PHOTO / Loic VENANCE)
In this file photo taken on May 19, 2018 Italian actress Asia Argento arrives for the closing ceremony and the screening of the film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. (AFP PHOTO / Loic VENANCE)

WASHINGTON — Italian actress Asia Argento, who became a leading figure in the #MeToo movement after accusing powerhouse producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, paid hush money to a man who claimed she sexually assaulted him when he was 17, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The $380,000 payment was made to Jimmy Bennett, an actor and rock musician, who claimed Argento assaulted him in a California hotel room in 2013, according to the Times, which cited documents sent to the paper by an unidentified party.

Bennett was two months past his 17th birthday at the time of the alleged encounter while Argento was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18.

The newspaper said it had tried repeatedly without success to get a comment on the matter from Argento and her representatives.

The terms of the deal including a payment schedule were finalized in April this year, according to the documents seen by the Times.

Three people familiar with the case told the paper the documents were authentic.

Argento’s lawyer Carrie Goldberg described the money as “helping Mr Bennett,” lamenting that the actress had to deal with people “who preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”

Bennett’s lawyers had characterized the hotel encounter as a “sexual battery” that traumatized the former child actor, threatening his mental health and income.

In this file photo actors Luke Ballan (L), Jimmy Bennett (C) and Paris Berelc (R) attend the premiere party of Disney XD’s “Lab Rats: Elite Force” on March 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Alberto E. Rodriguez)

His notice of intent to sue sought $3.5 million in damages for “intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery,” the paper said.

Argento became a powerful voice for the #MeToo movement after accusing Weinstein of raping her when she was 21 in his hotel room in 1997 during the Cannes film festival.

Bennett’s legal action was launched a month after Argento’s accusations against Weinstein were made public, the Times said.

She made an emotional speech at this year’s festival, telling the audience: “Things have changed. We are not going to allow you to get away with it.”

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