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'No leeway or tolerance': Rose McGowan releases powerful statement after Asia Argento accused of sex assault

The Harvey Weinstein accusers supported each other through #MeToo, but now McGowan is publicly severing ties

The Harvey Weinstein accusers supported each other through #MeToo, but now McGowan is publicly severing ties

Italian actress Asia Argento and US singer and actress Rose McGowan, who both accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, took part in a march organized by 'Non Una Di Meno' (Me Too) movement on March 8, 2018 as part of the International Women's Day in Rome. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

As two of the first women to publicly come forward with sexual assault allegations against powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, actors Rose McGowan and Asia Argento quickly formed a strong bond and became central figures in the #MeToo movement last year.

But now, in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Argento by young actor Jimmy Bennett, McGowan is taking a very large and very public step away from their friendship.

Bennett recently accused Argento of sexual assault, claiming the two had sexual relations when he was just 17 (she was 37), and that Argento later paid him to keep quiet about the encounter.

In a long statement released Monday afternoon, McGowan says she felt the need to reveal what she knew and when, because many wondered if she was aware of — and by extension complicit in — Argento's relationship.

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain posted this photo of his girlfriend Asia Argento and Rose McGowan, who became leading figures in the #MeToo movement. In a new statement, McGowan says she is severing their friendship over sexual assault allegations against Argento. (Twitter)

"Asia was a person who understood my trauma in a way that many others didn't. We were able to talk through them together and champion each other's voices," she writes. "It's no secret to anyone that I'm a blunt, candid, brazen individual vocally — and I think that's what I really related to Asia the most with."

McGowan goes on to say that she and her partner Rain Dove also bonded with Argento after the death of her partner, celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. McGowan also posted a letter defending Argento after social media users began blaming Argento for Bourdain's suicide. 

However, McGowan says that "everything changed" when she received a series of text messages from Dove revealing that Argento had not only slept with Bennett, but that she had been receiving nude photos of him since he was 12, and that she had taken no action to stop the photos.

"Rain Dove said that they were going to go to the police with these texts once we were done speaking no matter what. But that they wanted me to be aware of them so that I may be able to take further actions. I responded with 'You have to. You must.' I wasted no time," she writes.

"It wasn't hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy."

"Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You've spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better — I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been." - Rose McGowan

McGowan goes on to say that Dove has acted as a confidant for many celebrities, so it must have been especially difficult for them to go to police — but that McGowan encouraged Dove to do exactly that.

"There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. Victims also shouldn't be told how they should react or what they should say about their abusers," writes McGowan. "I've never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself."

McGowan says the focus shouldn't be on the drama of the situation, but rather on supporting justice, honesty and compassion. She also adds that the accusations must not be allowed to break the momentum of the movement.

"Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You've spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better — I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course," she writes. "Be the person you wish Harvey could have been."

Here is McGowan's letter in full:

I would first of all like to start off this statement saying thank you for your patience. A lot of people have been demanding answers and a response to the recent events surrounding Asia Argento's sexual assault case. Many people believe that because we have been close in each other's lives over the past year that perhaps I am affiliated with this incident or being complicit. I am not. 

I first met Asia on a red carpet, but it's only been the past year through our shared experience of the HW case that we have bonded. Asia was a person who understood my trauma in a way that many others didn't. We were able to talk through them together and champion each other's voices. We even got matching dot tattoos! Something I had posted on my IG just about a month ago. It's no secret to anyone that Im a blunt, candid, brazen individual vocally- and I think that's what I really related to Asia the most with. They were edgy, confrontational, and strong willed with very little care about how much other's liked or disliked them. Rare things to find in women in this industry or the world. 

But then everything changed. In an instant. I received a phone call and series of messages from the being I've been dating- Rain Dove. They said that they had been texting with Asia and that Asia had revealed that she had indeed slept with Jimmy Bennet. Rain also shared that Asia had stated that she'd been receiving unsolicited nudes of Jimmy since he had been 12. Asia mentioned in these texts that she didn't take any action on those images. No reporting to authorities, to the parents, or blocking of Jimmy's social media. Not even a simple message "Don't send me these images. They are inappropriate." There were a few other details revealed as well that I am not at liberty to mention in this statement as investigators do their job. 

Rain Dove said that they were going to go to the police with these texts once we were done speaking no matter what. But that they wanted me to be aware of them so that I may be able to take further actions. I responded with "You have to. You must." I wasted no time. It wasn't hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy. An hour after our conversation was finished Rain Dove confirmed that they had turned over the texts and were in conversation with officers. Almost 48 hours later the texts were in the press. 

I had introduced Rain Dove to Asia Argento last month, three days after the passing of Anthony Bourdain. I was with Asia to comfort and support her. Rain Dove came to support us both. It was an emotionally chaotic time and Rain Dove suggested we go to Berlin for a couple days to take the mourning out of Asia's home and into a neutral space. So we did. While in Berlin Asia had mentioned that she was being extorted for a large sum of money every month by someone who was blackmailing them with a provocative image. No one in the room knew who the extortionist was. Now we know it to be a reference to this case. 

Rain Dove continued on communicating with Asia occasionally after meeting her- and their conversations have been their own. I know Rain is a person to whom many high profile entities consult when they are experiencing social pressures because Rain is good at guiding them through the research confrontation, rehabilitation, and solution process. While they are a person who is good at keeping a secret for those dedicated to making things right- they are also justice driven. So it was not a surprise to me that I received that call and the messages from them. I've referred to Asia in the past as "My Ride or Die" and said very clearly that their friendship comes first. I know that coming to me with those messages must have been hard for Rain because of that so I commend them for their bravery. 

To the people who have checked in with me to see if I'm alright- the answer is thank you and Yes. I'll be fine. Its sad to lose a friend connection, but whats even more sad is what happened to Jimmy Bennet. Whether or not the extortion case is true- it wasn't fair and it wasn't right. It is the type of thing I fight against alongside so many. The reason I haven't released a statement is because I've frankly been extremely humbled by this event. I had to take a step back and realise that in my own activism while I fight hard with passion- I need to evolve. In the past I have been occasionally angry. As a victim I was justified in fiery feelings. But I know that those accused are the friends, parents, and family members of other people. There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. Victims also shouldn't be told how they should react or what they should say about their abusers. However as allies to the victim and voyeurs of an event we should find a better way to balance support of the victim with due process for the accused. I've never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself. 

At this current moment it may be easy to focus on the drama of the situation. The conspiracy. But the real focus should be on supporting justice. Supporting honesty. And supporting each other. We can not let this moment break the momentum of a movement that has freed so many people. We must use it to allow us to become stronger. More compassionate. More aware. And More organised. 

Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You've spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better - I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.

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