Asia Argento recalls sexual encounter with young actor

Italian actress Asia Argento.
Italian actress Asia Argento.

ROME • Italian actress Asia Argento  who became a leading figure in the #MeToo movement after accusing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, admitted she had sex with young actor Jimmy Bennett, who claimed she sexually assaulted him as a teenager.

During a television show in Italy on Sunday, Argento, who had initially denied having sex with Bennett, recounted her relationship with the actor.

Argento, who played his troubled mother in the 2004 film, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, saw him again in May 2013, when he was 17 and she was 37. According to Bennett's account of the encounter he gave in a Sept 24 interview on Italian television, Argento kissed him for a long time.

"It turned into her placing her hands on me and following that was when she pushed me onto the bed and took my pants off," said the actor, now 22.

Asked whether it was a "complete" relationship, Bennett said it was, implying they had sex, but declined to go into detail. The actor and rock musician was 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault. The legal age of consent in California is 18.

Argento strongly denied his version of events, saying the young man had asked her to help him prepare for an audition, as she did when he was a child.

"He started kissing me and touching me, but not as a mother and child as I saw him, but as a boy with raging hormones... And that froze me," she recounted.

In the following months, Argento said she had received intimate videos of him via Snapchat.

She said she did not break ties with Bennett because he was "troubled". But in winter last year, the actor asked for US$3.5 million (S$4.8 million) to keep quiet.

During the interview, Argento shared messages exchanged with her late boyfriend, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who would have paid for peace.

Bourdain reportedly paid him US$250,000. Following Bourdain's suicide in June, Argento suspended the payments. "What hurt me most is being called a paedophile," the actress said.

The daughter of Suspiria (1977) director Dario Argento, she 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.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2018, with the headline 'Asia Argento recalls sexual encounter with young actor'. Print Edition | Subscribe