Asia Argento, one of Harvey Weinstein's accusers and a prominent voice in the #MeToo movement, is denying allegations that she sexually assaulted actor Jimmy Bennett when he was a teenager.
"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false," Argento said in a statement first provided to journalist Yashar Ali. "I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Argento had settled a lawsuit last year with Bennett, who alleged the Italian actor assaulted him in a California hotel room in 2013 when he was 17 years old and she was 37. The newspaper reported Argento paid the former child actor, who played her son in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, a settlement of $380,000.
She declined to speak to the Times prior to the Sunday story, but said in a statement on Tuesday she had never had sex with Bennett.
However, she did acknowledge having paid Bennett, accusing him of making an "exorbitant request of money" because he was having money troubles.
According to Argento’s statement, her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain "personally undertook to help Bennett economically" because he was "afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us."
Bourdain killed himself in a French hotel in June.
Representatives for Argento and Bennett didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Argento also hinted she would pursue her legal options.
"This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution," Argento said.
"I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues."
Weinstein lawyer Ben Brafman said Monday that the payoff to Bennett "reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy" from Argento. "The sheer duplicity of her conduct is quite extraordinary and should demonstrate to everyone how poorly the allegations against Mr. Weinstein were actually vetted," he said.
More than 70 other women have accused the former Hollywood mogul of sexual misconduct.
Bennett alleged Argento assaulted him in 2013. An earlier version of this post misstated the year.