Anthony Bourdain Helped Pay Jimmy Bennett, Asia Argento Says

Italian director and actress Asia Argento responded to The New York Times report accusing the #MeToo movement leader of secretly arranging to pay off an underage actor she'd allegedly sexually assaulted years before.

The Times report released Sunday night came after encrypted documents were leaked to the newspaper alleging Argento and her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain arranged a payment of $380,000 to Jimmy Bennett, a child actor, to stay quiet about an alleged sexual assault. On Tuesday, Argento issued a statement to New York magazine's Yashar Ali denying the claims and expressing sadness at Bennett's situation. This, she claims, caused him to make the "exorbitant" request for money. Photos purporting to show the couple during the general time of the sexual encounter were also revealed online.

Argento responded by laying out how she and Bourdain paid Bennett, who was 17 at the time of the alleged sexual assault, out of kindness and not out of malice.

Italian director and actress Asia Argento issued a response to the Jimmy Bennett sexual assault allegations uncovered by The New York Times on Sunday night. Argento denied the claims. Reuters | Brendan McDermid

"I strongly deny and oppose the contents of The New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news," reads the statement provided to Ali. "I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."

"I was linked to him during several years by friendship only, which ended when, subsequent to my exposure to the Weinstein case, Bennett—who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages—unexpectantly made an exorbitant request of money from me. Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect."

"Antony [sic] insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett's demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."

I just received this statement from @AsiaArgento in response to the NYT story published late Sunday evening.

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 21, 2018

"This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution. I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues....Asia Argento."