In November 2017, a month after The New Yorker published its bombshell exposé of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual predation, actor and musician Jimmy Bennett contacted one of Weinstein's accusers, Italian actress and director Asia Argento, through a lawyer, asking for $3.5 million in damages related to a traumatizing sexual encounter in 2013, The New York Times reports, citing documents related to legal a settlement. Argento agreed to pay Bennett $380,000 over two years. Bennett was 17 and Argento was 37 when they had sex in her hotel room in California, the documents say. The age of consent in California is 18.
After accusing Weinstein of raping her, Argento became a prominent voice in the #MeToo movement.
Bennett, who started acting at age 6, was cast as Argento's son in a 2004 movie, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, when he was 7, and they stayed in intermittent contact. "Jimmy's impression of this situation was that a mother-son relationship had blossomed from their experience on set together," his lawyer, Gordon Sattro, wrote in the notice of intent to sue. The documents, including a May 2013 selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed, were sent to the Times by an unidentified party via encrypted emails.
The agreement did not include a nondisclosure clause, as California state law doesn't allow them and Argento declined to get around that by using a New York lawyer, "because you felt it was inconsistent with the public messages you've conveyed about the societal perils of nondisclosure agreements," her lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, wrote to Argento. "Bennett could theoretically tell people his claims against you," though "he is not permitted to bother you for more money, disparage you, or sue." Argento did not respond to numerous requests for a response, directly and through multiple representatives, the Times notes, and Bennett declined to be interviewed via his lawyer. Peter Weber