At the Women in the World Summit in New York, Harvey Weinstein accusers Asia Argento and Ambra Battilana Gutierrez discuss the ramifications of the #MeToo movement and the importance of keeping the conversation alive. (April 13)
Italian actress/director Asia Argento reportedly paid actor Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he accused her of sexually assaulting him just a few months after his 17th birthday, when she was 37, according to the New York Times.
The two first bonded when he starred with her in the independent film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” which was filmed in Knoxville in 2003, when Bennett was 7 years old and Argento was 28.
Bennett is now 22, and Argento is 42.
Bennett reportedly took action against Argento after she became a leader in the #MeToo movement and accused prominent film producer Harvey Weinstein of repeated sexual abuse that she claims began when Weinstein raped her during the 1997 Cannes Film Festival when she was 21.
Argento co-wrote and directed “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” in which she stars as a drug-addled prostitute and Bennett plays her son, Jeremiah. In the film, Argento’s character has her son dress as a girl and pretend to be her little sister. Her son is also raped by her boyfriend, played by Jeremy Renner, and spends three years in a Christian cult led by his grandfather, played by Peter Fonda.
Twin actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse play an older Jeremiah in the film.
The movie was filmed in Knoxville in late September and early October 2003. Downtown Knoxville is featured prominently in the movie, which was also shot at various other locations in Knoxville and Farragut. The movie, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, also stars Jeremy Sisto, Ben Foster, Marilyn Manson and Winona Ryder in an uncredited role.
According to documents obtained by the Times, “Jimmy’s impression of (his situation with Argento) was that a mother-son relationship had blossomed from their experience on set” of the Knoxville-filmed movie.
After appearing in “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” Bennett starred in such major films as “Hostage” (with Bruce Willis), the 2005 remake of “The Amityville Horror” (with Ryan Reynolds), “Firewall” (with Harrison Ford), “Poseidon” (with Josh Lucas and Kurt Russell) and “Orphan.”
The documents obtained by the Times assert that Bennett’s career was derailed after his 2013 sexual encounter with Argento in a California hotel room, which “hindered Mr. Bennett’s work and income and threatened his mental health.” Bennett’s notice of intent to sue asked for $3.5 million to compensate for distress, lost wages and assault and battery, the Times reported, noting that he made more than $2.7 million in the five years before the alleged assault and then dropped to an average of $60,000 a year.
One of the documents states that Argento invited Bennett to her room at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California, on May 9, 2013, gave the 17-year-old alcohol, kissed him, undressed him, performed oral sex on him had intercourse with him. Later that day she posted a photo of the two of them on her Instagram account and said, it was the “happiest day of my life.”
But according to the claim reported by the Times, Bennett felt “confused,” “mortified” and “disgusted” on his way home after the encounter.
Last November, a month after Argento’s accusation against Weinstein became public, Bennett’s lawyer filed his notice of intent to sue to Richard Hofstetter, who was representing both Argento and her boyfriend, celebrity chef/TV personality Anthony Bourdain.
Argento then made arrangements to pay Bennett, according to the documents obtained by the Times.
Bourdain was found dead by apparent suicide in a hotel room in Kaysersberg, France, on June 8. He was 61.
In July, Harvey Weinstein, 66, pleaded not guilty in New York to felony sex-crimes charges, none of them involving Argento.
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