Jimmy Bennett, the actor-musician who alleged that he was sexually assaulted by Asia Argento in a Marina del Rey hotel room in 2013 when he was 17, has spoken out for the first time since the New York Times reported the claims on Sunday.
“I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me,” Bennett said in a statement released to the media Wednesday. “My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative.”
Argento has denied the accusations that she assaulted Bennett, saying Tuesday that she never engaged in a sexual relationship with him, and that she was “deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false.”
The Italian actress did, however, confirm that her late boyfriend, chef/author/TV host Anthony Bourdain, paid Bennett as much as $380,000 to stop harassing Argento as part of a shakedown.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has said it is looking for Bennett to substantiate his assault claims, but that “to date, the LASD has not located any police report alleging criminal activity within our jurisdiction in relation to this incident.”
Argento has been one of the most visible faces in the #MeToo movement since last fall, when she was a key component of the New Yorker‘s exposé detailing decades of sexual abuse and harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. She said Weinstein raped her in a Cannes hotel in 1997. Weinstein has denied the accusation.
Here is Bennett’s full statement sent today by his lawyer Gordon Sattro:
Many brave women and men have spoken out about their own experiences during the #metoo movement, and I appreciate the bravery that it took for each and every one of them to take such a stand. I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative. I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy. I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time. I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.