Italian actress and sexual abuse campaigner (#MeToo) Asia Argento has denied sexual assault of a minor.
The actress denied having had a sexual relationship five years ago with an underage teen, calling the allegations part of “a long-standing persecution”.
The New York Times had on Sunday reported that 42 year old Argento, a Harvey Weinstein accuser and leading figure in the #MeToo movement, had paid actor and rock musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000 over the alleged 2013 incident at a Los Angeles hotel.
Bennett was two months past his 17th birthday at the time of the alleged encounter, while Argento was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18.
In a statement Argento said her late boyfriend, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain who committed suicide in June, gave money to Bennett upon the condition that “we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life,”
A statement issued by Asia Argento agent said;
“I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article… as circulated also in national and international news,”
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
Argento says that she was linked to Bennett “during several years by friendship only”.