Jimmy Bennett's attorney responds to Asia Argento's allegations
Posted September 7, 2018 10:08 a.m. EDT
(CNN) — An attorney for actor Jimmy Bennett told CNN he is "shocked, appalled, and disgusted" by the "representations, mischaracterizations, and attacks" in a letter posted by Asia Argento's lawyer.
In a lengthy letter posted to his website on Wednesday, Argento's attorney Mark Heller disputed allegations from Bennett that his client sexually assaulted the actor in 2013 -- claiming she was the one who was assaulted.
"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 told her that she had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12 years old," Heller wrote in his statement. "Asia chose at the time not to prosecute Bennett for sexually attacking her."
Bennett's attorney, Gordon K. Sattro, released a statement to CNN Friday.
"If I were to sum up the letter from Asia and her attorney in a single word it would be 'hypocritical,' with a close second being 'non-sensical,'" Sattro wrote.
"The statement released is clearly self-serving, slanderous and offensive, not only to my client, but to victims both silent and outspoken, everywhere," he added. "She is implying that her truth is the actual truth because of her perceived position in this all too important movement and her delusional view of her own importance to it."
Argento's attorney claimed that although Argento's former boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, paid Bennett $250,000 as part of the settlement, Argento would not be making further payments.
"It was inaccurately revealed that a $380,000 settlement had been paid by Asia to Bennett in an attempt to preclude Bennett form making any allegations against Asia which would certainly create the impression that Asia was responsible for the alleged incident," Heller wrote. "Bourdain chose to protect Asia's and his reputation and to pay Bennett and allowed Bennett to extract payments from him ... 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."
Bourdain, whose series "Parts Unknown" airs on CNN, died by suicide in June.
Last month, the New York Times published a report alleging that Argento, one of the leaders of the #MeToo movement, had months after publicly accusing Harvey Weinstein of rape agreed to make payments to Bennett after he accused her of sexual assault.
Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges in an unrelated case, has repeatedly denied any allegations of "nonconsensual sex."
New York Times: Asia Argento, #MeToo leader, paid sexual assault accuser
Argento and Bennett starred in the 2004 movie, "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" where Bennett played her son.
Argento initially denied the allegations in the newspaper in a statement first reported by the Huffington Post, saying, "I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."
But, shortly afterwards, the text messages where she admitted being with Bennett, surfaced.
Argento's attorney, Mark Heller's letter is titled "Asia Argento launches 'phase two' of the #MeToo movement."
Sattro criticized that argument in his statement Friday.
"Representing Asia as launching Phase Two of the #MeToo movement where 'a victim who has some negative history should have the courage to come forward and say 'me too, I was a victim of sexual assault' and whatever might color my past does not negate the truth of what happened to me,' while victim-shaming my client in the same statement is ludicrous in the highest regard," Sattro wrote.
"Asia has yet to realize that successful women can also be the victimizers," he added. "Predators are not limited to a single sex."
The New York Times also reported it had received a photo from 2013 of the two lying in bed among documents sent to the newspaper through encrypted emails by an unidentified party.
Photo of Asia Argento with 17-year-old actor surfaces
At the time, Bennett and Argento would at that time have been 17 and 37 respectively. The alleged assault took place in California, where the age of consent is 18.
Sattro said Heller's letter has no bearing on Bennett's allegations and is "meant to intimidate, shame, and insult our client back into silence."
"This is a familiar tactic which has been criticized by the #MeToo movement repeatedly over the past year," Sattro wrote. "In Hollywood, the one thing that has never and will never be condoned, or tolerated, is the abuse of child actors. Asia and her attorney's letter should cause disgust in the public as a whole."
He said they plan on collecting the outstanding $130,000 from the settlement, which Bennett plans on donating to the #MeToo movement.
Bennett will also be cooperating with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Sattro said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department earlier told CNN it was trying to reach Bennett in order to "appropriately document any potential criminal allegations."
"Ms. Argento may be a victim of Harvey Weinstein, but simply being a victim of another does not absolve you of culpability for your own wrongdoings and the victims you leave behind," Sattro concluded his statement. "Jimmy will not be silenced or shamed, we stand with Jimmy and will see this through until what is right and what is just prevails."
CNN has reached out to Argento's attorney for comment.