Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento says her own sexual assault accusations are money-driven
Asia Argento, a film director and Hollywood star, became a popular figure within the #MeToo movement when she publically accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her. Currently, she is being accused by a former co-star of sexual assault herself, and attempts to silence the accusations with financial settlements.
As previously reported by the Black Youth Project, documents sent anonymously to the New York Times allege Jimmy Bennett, Argento’s former co-star, was paid $380,000 after a 37-year-old Argento sexually assaulted him when he was only 17 in a California hotel room in 2013.
After Argento publically accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her at the age of 21 in 1997, Bennett’s lawyers sent her a legal notice with the intent to sue in November. Legal documents state Bennett was traumatized by the sexual assault.
Photos obtained by TMZ show Bennett and Argento in bed together, apparently topless, and in screenshots of texts allegedly to a friend Argento admits to having sex with Bennett. However, Argento vehemently denies all allegations, and insinuates Bennett is driven by money.
In a statement, she says, “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article. I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
In response to the financial settlement, Argento credits her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, for paying Bennett as he made an “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me.”
The Times report that while the 22-year-old actor made millions, his income suffered after the sexual assault in 2013.
As Anna North at Vox pointed out, this tactic of painting accusers as money hungry or morally lacking is one many powerful men accused of sexual assault use to deflect from allegations. Argento’s willingness to do the same even after taking a prominent role in the #MeToo conversation might highlight how the protecting survivors of all genders needs could use a reexamination in the movement.