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Asia Argento reportedly paid assault accuser

The New York Times reported that actress Asia Argento paid actor Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013. Argento denied the allegations in a statement, according to the Huffington Post.

Posted: Aug 31, 2018 2:29 PM
Updated: Aug 31, 2018 2:47 PM

Rain Dove, an acquaintance of actress and advocate Asia Argento, claims to have contacted investigators after conversations and text messages with Argento prompted them to believe she had broken the law.

"The whole entire thing really just tipped at the point of yes, this person engaged with this individual when they were a minor and that is considered in California, I believe it's statutory rape." Dove told CNN in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Dove, who is gender nonbinary and uses the pronoun they, said they called the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department and shared the information they had gathered concerning an alleged relationship between Argento and actor Jimmy Bennett.

The Sheriff's office tells CNN it has been unable to contact Bennett.

Last week, the New York Times reported it obtained lawyers' documents in encrypted emails from an unidentified party that showed Argento agreed to make payments to Bennett after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013. As part of the agreement, Argento reportedly received a copyright for a photo of the two of them together, showing the two in bed.

According to the publication, Bennett said the assault took place when he was 17 and she was 37 at a hotel in California, where the age of consent is 18. Bennett played Argento's son in the 2004 movie "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," which Argento also directed.

Dove is in a relationship with Rose McGowan, who, according to Dove, introduced Argento and Dove in June.

Related: Rose McGowan's powerful voice

McGowan and Argento are both outspoken advocates for the #MeToo movement. Both women have accused disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein of rape.

Through a spokesperson, Weinstein has denied all allegations of "nonconsensual sexual activity."

Dove said Argento called seeking support after the New York Times report.

Argento complained, Dove told CNN, that she was being extorted for money by Bennett and initially denied having sex with him. Argento later contradicted herself in an alleged text exchange with Dove, which Dove shared with CNN.

"The Public knows nothing, only what the NYT wrote. Which is one sided. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me...," an alleged text from Argento read.

"So it was rape? Or an attempted sexual action?" Rain Dove replied in a text viewed by CNN.

"I had sex with him it felt weird. I didn't know he was a minor until the shakedown letter," Argento allegedly wrote in response.

CNN has contacted attorneys for Argento and Bennett for comment on this story.

Argento denied the allegations about Bennett in a statement to the Huffington Post last week.

"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett," she wrote.

Dove told CNN that Argento's statement was, in part, what prompted them to go public with the text messages.

Dove said they have seen some communications about Argento, Bennett and money, but does not know if it was evidence of extortion.

Dove also said they have seen texts between Argento and her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, in which it appeared Bourdain paid money to Bennett on Argento's behalf.

Bourdain, whose series "Parts Unknown" airs on CNN, died by suicide earlier this year.

"Asia sent me a series of text messages between her and Anthony Bourdain in which he suggested to her to pay the kid, and it wasn't that an admission of guilt or anything," Dove said. "Then another text message that was more cryptic that suggested that perhaps Anthony Bourdain had just made the arrangements for the payments. And, Asia said, 'Yay. Thank you.'"

In her statement last week, Argento said that Bourdain made the payment.

Argento said she and Bourdain "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."

Through his attorney, Bennett issued a statement to CNN last week regarding Argento.

"I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself," Bennett's statement read in part. "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."

Argento responded to Dove's decision to come forward by calling them a "monster," Dove said. But, they added, they did what they felt was right in order to ensure justice for everyone involved.

"I did not want to be complicit in something that could be a crime," Dove said.

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