A report that Asia Argento has paid a former child actor and musician a settlement after an alleged sexual encounter when he was 17 is raising questions about her participation as a judge on “X Factor Italy.”
Argento has been one of the most outspoken voices against sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and is an accuser of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. The New York Times’ report that Argento agreed to pay Jimmy Bennett $380,000 because of an alleged sexual encounter with him in 2013 took many by surprise. Bennett played the Italian actress-director’s son in her film “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.”
Reactions from Italy’s media personalities have so far been muted, in a country where Argento has been criticized and ridiculed for speaking up against sexual harassment. But a growing number of Italians have taken to Twitter to demand that FremantleMedia Italy, which is producing “X Factor Italy,” and broadcaster Sky Italia pull the actress-director from the show, which is scheduled to start airing on Sky on Sept. 6.
“So will XFactor Italia fire Mrs. Asia Argento?” one woman tweeted. “Sort of like with men implicated in sexual molestation accusations…As a woman I want equal rights even in a negative sense.”
Another Twitter user asked Sky Italia and “X Factor Italy”: “We don’t need to tell you right? Asia Argento has already been sacked right? We won’t be seeing her live nationwide right?”
Several other Tweets referred to the case of comedian Gilbert Rozon, who last October was removed from the judging panel of “La France a un incroyable talent” (“France’s Got Talent”), another FremantleMedia show, after nine women made allegations against him of sexual harassment and assault.
Sky Italia and FremantleMedia Italia in a statement said that if the allegations reported by the New York Times were to be confirmed, “the issue would be absolutely inconsistent with Sky’s ethical principles and values and therefore — in full agreement with FremantleMedia — we would have no choice but to take note of it and put an end to the collaboration with Asia Argento.”