Jimmy Bennett, the man who has accused Italian actress Asia Argento of sexually assaulting him when he was 17, has broken his silence in a statement obtained by "Good Morning America."
Bennett, now in his twenties, explained that he originally chose to handle the situation with Argento privately, but when she publicly accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her, something changed.
The New York Times reported earlier this week that last year, Argento quietly paid Bennett $380,000 to settle the accusations, which date back to 2013.
"My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative," he stated. "I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy."
Argento, 42, has denied the allegations made against her, stating on Tuesday that she never had a sexual relationship with Bennett and was "deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false."
The actress, who reportedly met Bennett when he was a seven years old and appeared alongside her in a film, added that they were linked "by friendship only" and accused him of making an "exorbitant request of money from me." She also said that her late boyfriend, celebrity chef and travel host Anthony Bourdain, "insisted" that they handle the matter privately and "personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."
"Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect," she said in the statement. "Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us."
The New York Times reported Argento gave Bennett alcohol prior to the alleged assault, which allegedly included oral sex and intercourse. According to the newspaper, Bennett made millions before the alleged assault, but in the years since, his income has dropped to an average of $60,000 per year as a result of the trauma he suffered.
"Many brave women and men have spoken out about their own experiences during the #MeToo movement, and I appreciate the bravery that it took for each and every one of them to take such a stand," Bennett stated Wednesday. "I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time. I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence."
Back in 2017, Argento was one of the first women to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault, which he denied. Weinstein's attorney spoke out on Monday, stating that the allegations made against Argento should cast doubt on the accusations she's launched against his client.
"This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento," Weinstein's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement. "At the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years."