Asia Argento’s lawyer is disputing allegations that the actress sexually abused Jimmy Bennett, and instead, claims he “attacked” her.
In a lengthy statement released on Wednesday, Argento’s new attorney, Mark Jay Heller, addressed the New York Times report released last month, writing: “In Asia’s circumstance, although it was alleged in the August 20, 2018 New York Times article that she had initiated a sexual attack on Bennett, Asia at no time initiated a sexual encounter with Bennett.”
Heller went on to say Argento’s denial statement in which she claimed she “never had any sexual relationship with Bennett” is “completely accurate.”
“Her relationship with Bennett was never sexual, but rather the relationship was a long distance friendship over many years,” he added.
After the 42-year-old actress released her denial, TMZ published a photo and text messages that appeared to contradict Argento’s claim that nothing sexual happened between Bennett and her.
In an interview with People Magazine, Heller said Argento has been “very pleased” to be clarifying the misinterpretation of her denial statement, in which she stated there was no “relationship.”
In both his interview with People and his public statement, Heller referred to the text messages, which were previously reported by TMZ to be “between Argento and one of her friends.” In the texts, a person the outlet claimed was Argento admitted to having sex with a minor. It was unclear how TMZ obtained the photo and alleged conversation.
“As revealed in the text messages published by TMZ, Asia stated, ‘The horny kid jumped me… I had sex with him it felt weird.’ She went on to relate that she became ‘frozen’ when he was on top of her and he told her that she had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12 years old,” Heller said in his statement.
He continued, “Asia chose at the time not to prosecute Bennett for sexually attacking her.”
A rep for Bennett did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Heller also went on to say that Argento was halting payments to Bennett, which Heller said were set up by Argento’s late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain.
“When Bennett learned of the romantic relationship between Asia and Anthony Bourdain and believing that Anthony Bourdain was wealthy and had an outstanding reputation to protect and that they were both vulnerable to embarrassment because they were recognized as early and prominent supporters of the #metoo movement, Bennett chose to intrude on that relationship and demanded a financial payment from Bourdain in consideration for not embarrassing Asia and indirectly Bourdain by virtue of Bourdain’s relationship with Asia,” Heller stated, adding that Bourdain entered a $380,000 agreement with Bennett in order to “protect Asia’s and his reputation.”
However, Heller added, “Now that Mr. Bourdain has passed away and is not able to comment on his desire to avoid potential scandal which resulted in his facilitating payment to Bennett, Asia will not permit any portion of the balance of the $380,000 payment to be paid to Bennett who has already received $250,000 from Anthony Bourdain.”
In the New York Times report last month, Argento was accused by child star Bennett of setting up a sexual encounter with him in California in 2013 when he was 17 and she was 37. The legal age of consent in California is 18.
On August 19, the newspaper reported, citing court documents, that Argento paid roughly $380,000 to Bennett after he confronted her regarding the alleged sexual encounter that took place in 2013 in a California hotel room.
In the documents, Bennett sought to sue Argento for the alleged encounter at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, Calif. At that time, Bennett allegedly showed him notes she had previously written to him and gave him alcohol. She then reportedly kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, performed oral sex on him and then the two had intercourse.
Bennett, now 22, previously broke his silence in a statement obtained by Deadline, saying: “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.”
Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.