Jimmy Bennett, the actor who accused Asia Argento of sexually assaulting him when he was 17, has issued a statement saying he was “ashamed and afraid” to speak out about the claims.
Bennett filed a notice of intent to sue Argento in November 2017 – one month after she publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her.
The alleged incident was made public earlier this week when The New York Times published a report claiming Argento had secretly paid Bennett off.
In the statement, Bennett said: “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.”
He continued: “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.”
Argento has denied having a sexual relationship with Bennett and has claimed her former partner Anthony Bourdain had been the one to pay the actor the reported settlement money in an effort to “avoid negative publicity.”
Bennett and Argento co-starred in the 2004 movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things together, in which they played a mother and her son.