According to documents obtained by the New York Times, the actor and director agreed to pay musician Jimmy Bennett a total of $380,000 over the course of a year and a half after allegedly sexually assaulting him in a California hotel room when he was just over the age of 17.
However, the Italian actor-director now claims that a settlement was paid by her partner Anthony Bourdain to help reduce Bennett’s “severe economic problems.”
The documents report that Bennett was initially planning to sue Argento for $3.5m in damages, citing emotional distress, lost wages and sexual assault. He claims that his income dropped from $2.7m to $60,000 following the alleged incident. He played her son in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false,” Argento said in a statement obtained by The Guardian. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
Argento alleges that actor and musician Bennett made “an exorbitant request of money” out of the blue knowing that the late chef Bourdain – who she claims deemed him “dangerous” – was perceived to be rich. She said that Bourdain, who died by suicide in June aged 61, paid Bennett out of fear of the “negative publicity” he could have brought upon them.
“Subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett – who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages – unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me,” she said, adding: “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.”
“Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us.
“We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
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