According to documents obtained by the New York Times, leading #MeToo advocate Asia Argento settled an accusation of sexual assault from former child actor and musician Jimmy Bennett for the sum of $380,000 to be paid over the course of a year and a half.
The claim and resulting discussions of payment are included in documents between the lawyers for Argento and Bennett. The claim states Bennett was a little over 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault, which took place in a California hotel room in 2013 when Argento was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18.
As part of the agreement, Bennett, who is now 22, gave a selfie of he and Argento in bed and its copyright to Argento, now 42. Three people familiar with the case told the New York Times that the documents were authentic.
The lawyer for Argento who handled the settlement, Carrie Goldberg, in the documents described the money as “helping Mr. Bennett.”
“We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg wrote. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among s—-y individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”
According to the documents, Bennett’s initial notice of intent to sue was for $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery. Bennett did not sign a non-disclosure agreement, in part because California law prohibits NDAs in civil cases that contain claims like Bennett’s. In the documents, Goldberg writes that Argento could work around the California law by using New York lawyers and claiming New York law governs the contract, but Argento opted not to pursue that course.
Argento was one of the 13 women included in the first October 2017 New Yorker report about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault that dated back decades.
She’s recently faced online persecution after her boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, took his own life. Online trolls began harassing her, saying that she caused his death. Numerous sexual assault and harassment survivors penned on op-ed in the Los Angeles Times supporting her.
Bennett appeared in films including “Daddy Day Care” and Argento’s “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things,” in which he played her son. More recently he had a role on “Bosch.” He claimed that after the incident with Argento, his work suffered and his income went from more than $2.7 million in the five years before the 2013 incident to less than $60,000 a year after. He is now working on a music career.