Entertainment

#MeToo activist Asia Argento settled sex assault complaint from her own accuser, NYT reports

Authorities are looking into sexual assault allegations by a young actor against Italian actress Asia Argento — one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Accusation came from younger male co-star of The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things

After being introduced to the stage by Cannes Film Festival juror Ava Duvernay, at right, actor Asia Argento spoke out against Harvey Weinstein at this year's event in February. According to a New York Times report, Argento recently settled a complaint filed against her by a young actor and musician who said she sexually assaulted him when he was 17. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Authorities said Monday that they are looking into sexual assault allegations by a young actor against Italian actress Asia Argento — one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Darren Harris said investigators from his department will seek to talk to Jimmy Bennett or his representatives about the alleged incident at a Southern California hotel in 2013, when Bennett was 17.

The move comes in response to a New York Times story saying Argento, 42, settled a legal notice of intent to sue filed by Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 shortly after she said last October that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her.

Argento and Bennett co-starred in a 2004 film called The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things in which Argento played Bennett's prostitute mother. An actor since childhood, Bennett has a long list of TV and movie credits, including appearances in films such as Daddy Day Care and the rebooted Star Trek, where he played a young James T. Kirk.

Jimmy Bennett, seen here in 2010, began acting as a child and built up an extensive list of credits, including TV's Everwood and films such as Daddy Day Care and Star Trek, playing a young James Kirk. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Bennett says in the notice that he had sex with Argento in a California hotel in 2013. The age of consent in California is 18. The notice says the encounter traumatized Bennett and hurt his career, the Times reported.

The newspaper said it received court documents that included a selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, the Times reported.

Actors Asia Argento, left, and Rose McGowan, who have both accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, are seen participating in a #MeToo march in Rome on International Women's Day this year. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

Argento became one of the most well-known activists of the #MeToo movement after she told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 when she was 21. ​Argento told the magazine that she continued to have a relationship with Weinstein because she was afraid of angering him.

The actor and filmmaker was also in a relationship with the late celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, who was among Argento's most outspoken supporters.

Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, but not including Argento.

Representatives for Argento could not be immediately reached by The Associated Press for comment. Through a representative, Bennett declined to comment to the Times.

After Sunday evening's publication of the Times story about Argento, Rose McGowan, a fellow actor and another Weinstein accuser who has also been an outspoken activist of the #MeToo movement, said her "heart is broken." 

Activist Tarana Burke, who founded the Me Too Movement, acknowledged that "it will continue to be jarring" when hearing famous names "connected to sexual violence."

What's needed, she continued, was to shift talk away from the actions of an individual to the wider problems with power and privilege. 

"There is no model survivor," she added. "We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behaviour."

now