The man who alleges he was sexually assaulted by Asia Argento, a leading figure in the #MeToo movement, has broken his silence.
The New York Times reported Sunday it obtained lawyers’ documents in encrypted emails from an unidentified party that showed Argento agreed to make payments to actor Jimmy Bennett after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013.
According to the publication, Bennett said the assault took place when he was 17 and she was 37 at a hotel in California, where the age of consent is 18. Bennett played Argento’s son in the 2004 movie “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.”
Argento denied the allegations in the newspaper in a statement first reported Tuesday by the Huffington Post.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
She said she had a friendship with Bennett that ended when – after she was in the news for her claims of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein – Bennett contacted her and “made an exorbitant request of money from me.”
Argento said she and her then-boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, “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.”
Argento’s lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
Bennett released a statement to CNN on Wednesday in response to the New York Times story.
Below is his statement in full:
“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.”
CNN’s Lisa Respers France contributed to this story