Jimmy Bennett’s lawyer is responding to Asia Argento’s claims that the actor was the aggressor during their 2013 sexual encounter when he was just 17.
“This situation has escalated due to Asia’s offensive and dismissive interpretation of this situation in whole,” Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, tells Us Weekly in an exclusive statement. “After reviewing the letter from Asia’s third attorney, I am shocked, appalled, and disgusted by their representations, mischaracterizations, and attacks.”
“If I were to sum up the letter from Asia and her attorney in a single word it would be ‘hypocritical,’ with a close second being ‘non-sensical,” he says. “We read this statement as a self-serving and slanderous one which is offensive, not only to my client, but in all likelihood to victims both silent and outspoken, everywhere. It would seem that Asia is implying that her truth is the actual truth because of her perceived position in this all too important movement and a delusional view of her own importance to it.”
Sattro is referring to the statement released by Argento’s lawyer, Mark Heller, on Wednesday, September 5, claiming that his client “is hopeful” that “it will ultimately be determined that Asia never initiated an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, but rather she was attacked by Bennett and might even be suffering the fallback of a smear campaign by those already accused who have a vested interested in their accusers being denied credibility.”
Meanwhile, Bennett’s lawyer goes on to tell Us, “Representing Asia as launching Phase Two of the #MeToo movement where ‘a victim who has some negative history should have the courage to come forward and say ‘me too, I was a victim of sexual assault’ and whatever might color my past does not negate the truth of what happened to me,’ while victim-shaming my client in the same statement is ludicrous in the highest regard. Asia has yet to realize that successful women can also be among those who prey on the vulnerable. Predators are not limited to a single sex.”
Sattro adds, “It should be made clear that Asia’s attacks on my client’s character have no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013, and the statements in her most recent letter are seemingly crafted with the intent to intimidate, shame, and insult our client back into silence. This is a familiar tactic which has been criticized by the #MeToo movement repeatedly over the past year. In Hollywood, the one thing that has never and will never be condoned, or tolerated, is the abuse of child actors.”
The attorney then reveals that Bennett will be donating some of the money he received: “With the above in mind, we have decided that we are going to secure the balance of funds due under the legally enforceable agreement between Jimmy and Asia and we will be cooperating with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Upon securing the outstanding funds owed, Jimmy will be donating the entirety of it to the #MeToo movement.”
“Ms. Argento may be a victim of Harvey Weinstein, but simply being a victim of another does not absolve you of culpability for your own wrongdoings and the victims you leave behind. Jimmy will not be silenced or shamed, we stand with Jimmy and will see this through until what is right and what is just prevails,” the statement to Us concludes.
The New York Times published the initial report on August 19 based on court documents, which alleged Argento sexually assaulted Bennett when she was 37 years old and he was a minor, and then paid him $380,000 in exchange for his silence. (She later denied having “any sexual relationship” and claimed the settlement was “upon the condition we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”)
The following day, after TMZ published a selfie of Argento and Bennett topless in bed together, the actor addressed the situation in a statement to Us Weekly: “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 the 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.”
The Italian actress had been at the forefront of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement since coming forward with allegations against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Us Weekly has reached out to Argento for comment.