Actor Asia Argento’s attorney says he isn’t sure where the image of his client posing with Jimmy Bennett — the man who has accused the prominent #MeToo figure of sexual assault — came from, but she is prepared to mount a vigorous defense.
“She is prepared to defend her reputation and vigorously defend any claims that he makes against her,” the attorney, Mark Jay Heller, told BuzzFeed News Thursday.
However, when asked about the photo that purportedly shows Argento and Bennett in bed, Heller said, "I haven’t seen it."
When asked if he knew where the image came from, Heller said he had no knowledge of "when it was taken, by whom it was taken, what it depicts."
“I don’t know very much about it,” Heller said. “I’m looking into it.”
Gordon Sattro, Bennett’s attorney, told BuzzFeed News, that he could not confirm where the image came from either and is certain "that it did not come from Jimmy."
On Tuesday, Heller said he believes text messages published by TMZ in August tell the true story of what happened between Argento and Bennett: that she was the one who was assaulted, not the other way around.
“I think it clearly indicates that he was the perpetrator,” Heller said of Bennett, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Sattro said, in part, "It should be made clear that Asia’s attacks on my client’s character have no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013, and the statements in her most recent letter are 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," the statement continued. "In Hollywood, the one thing that has never and will never be condoned, or tolerated, is the abuse of child act."
Prior to the text messages being leaked, Argento denied having any sexual relationship with Bennett.
Actor Rose McGowan, who stood by Argento after both women said disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein raped them, urged her friend to “be the person you wished Harvey could have been” in a statement addressing the issue.
McGowan also said that the texts TMZ published were between Argento and model Rain Dove, the person McGowan has been dating.
Last month, the New York Times reported that Argento, with the help of her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, paid Bennett $380,000 to settle a lawsuit last year. Heller said it was an attempt by Bennett to extort the actor.
According to a statement on Heller’s website, Argento 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.”
The latest statement from Bennett's attorney can be read in full below:
This situation has escalated due to Asia’s offensive and dismissive interpretation of this situation in whole. After reviewing the letter from Asia’s THIRD attorney, I am shocked, appalled, and disgusted by their representations, mischaracterizations, and attacks. 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.” The statement released is clearly self-serving, slanderous and offensive, not only to my client, but to victims both silent and outspoken, everywhere. 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.
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. Asia has yet to realize that successful women can also be the victimizers. Predators are not limited to a single sex.
It should be made clear that Asia’s attacks on my client’s character have no bearing on the events that took place on May 9, 2013, and the statements in her most recent letter are 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. 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. We are going to secure the balance of funds due under the legally enforceable agreement between Jimmy and Asia and will cooperate with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Upon securing the outstanding $130,000.00, Jimmy will be donating the funds to the #MeToo movement.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. 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.