According to The New York Times, actor and rock musician Jimmy Bennett claimed that Argento sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room five years ago. The assault allegedly occurred just two months past Bennett’s 17th birthday. The age of consent in California is 18. At the time, Argento was 37.
Last year, Argento reportedly agreed to pay $380,000 in installments to Bennett, who played her son in “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” a 2004 film she directed and starred in.
The arrangement for payments was laid out in documents, which The Times obtained.
Argento was one of the first actresses to publicly accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. She detailed the alleged attack in the New Yorker last year. Her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, who died by suicide earlier this year, staunchly supported her.
Since the New Yorker exposé, Weinstein has been charged in New York with six felony counts of sex assault, including rape. None of the charges involve Argento. In total, more than 70 women have accused the producer of sexual misconduct.
Bennett’s lawyer told the Times that Argento’s Weinstein revelations were a painful reminder of his client’s own experiences. That’s why Bennett finally moved to press his case against her.
Bennett claimed the “sexual battery” affected his work and mental health, his attorney wrote last year in a notice of intent to sue that was sent to Argento’s lawyer, per The Times. The notice asked for $3.5 million in damages for emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.
Bennett’s attorney said the alleged assault occurred when the two had a “reunion” in 2013 at a Los Angeles hotel room. Argento allegedly performed oral sex on Bennett and then they had intercourse, The Times reported. As the teenager returned to his parents’ house, he began to feel “extremely confused, mortified and disgusted,” according to the notice of intent.
As part of the settlement deal, Bennett turned over a selfie of the two of them in bed together that day, and assigned its copyright to Argento.
Argento and her representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Huffpost, nor did they provide a comment to the Times.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.