Asia Argento Speaks Out About Jimmy Bennett Sexual Assault Claim in TV Interview

Asia Argento tells DailyMailTV how Anthony Bourdain's suicide left her in a hole-Screen shot-H 2018.jpg
Dailymail.co.uk

"They were saying that I was a pedophile, pretty much, and I was a monster," the Italian actress told DailyMailTV. "That I was like [Harvey] Weinstein."

One month after she was accused of sexually assaulting former child actor Jimmy Bennett, Asia Argento addressed the claims in part two of a new interview with DailyMailTV, which aired on Tuesday. Part one aired on Monday.

"They were saying that I was a pedophile, pretty much, and I was a monster. That I was like [Harvey] Weinstein, like a serial predator…These lies have destroyed my life," the Italian actress said during the second half of the sit-down segment. 

Argento was referring to her former friend Rose McGowan and McGowan's partner, Rain Dove, and the personal texts Argento and Dove had exchanged that were leaked in the press. The texts, which were interpreted by many to be evidence that Argento raped Bennett, were published by TMZ and Dove eventually came forward to say they handed them over to the police.

Argento emphatically denies the allegations. "What gave me the strength to talk to [DailyMailTV] today is the rage I felt when both Rose McGowan and Rain Dove kept on saying these lies about me, saying that I was receiving nude photographs from Bennett since he was 12 years old," she continued.

In a recent tweet, Argento said she plans to sue Dove and McGowan. She has claimed it was Bennett who sexually assaulted her in 2013 and Argento says the leaked texts were selective and do not tell the whole story.

"I said in these messages [that] I was frozen, he was on top of me," she said. "After this act, he said, 'I have had this fantasy for 12 years.' Which, for me, was really shocking. I told him at the time, 'I never thought of you in these terms.'"

Argento — who spoke out against her accused rapist Weinstein during a heated speech at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival — was once considered a leading voice in the #MeToo movement. Though she has denied any wrongdoing with Bennett, she reiterated to the DailyMailTV that her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, paid the actor off in a $380,000 settlement.

Argento said that she thinks Bennett made the sexual assault accusations against her in an attempt to extort Bourdain for money. "It was Anthony's decision. Anthony knew it had been a traumatic experience in my life," she said. "I was going out with somebody whose wealth and fame far exceeded my own, so it was clear that it was an attempt to get money from him."

Added Argento: "[Bennett] had problems financially. … So, even though he assaulted me, I felt sorry for the child that I cared so much about."

According to Argento, Bourdain said, "Let's give the guy some money so that he will leave us alone in our relationship." Argento then said that handing over the money to Bennett "worried me from the beginning." She elaborated, "I didn't want this payment to be made and that's why I stopped paying him."

Argento's interview with DailyMailTV is her first since she was accused in August of sexually assaulting Bennett in a California hotel room in 2013, when she was 37 years old and he was just 17. (The age of consent in California is 18.)

Bennett spoke out about Argento's alleged assault in a recent interview on Italy's La 7 program Non e l'Arena (It's Not the Arena), hosted by Massimo Giletti, one of the country's most notable journalists. During his chat with Giletti, Bennett — who first met Argento in 2004 when he was 7 years old, playing the role of her son in the film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things — detailed his alleged interaction with the actress.

"It’s hard for me to talk about this in front of strangers and people I don’t know, but I do want to get the benefit of the doubt of telling the truth, and also I don’t want to say anything too inappropriate," Bennett, now 22, said in part. "After the kisses started getting longer and it turned into more her placing her hands on me in different ways. Following that was when she pushed me onto the bed and undid my belt and took my pants off."

Not long after Argento, now 43, made headlines for allegedly assaulting Bennett, CNN announced it would no longer air the episodes of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown that she had previously participated in alongside Bourdain. The TV chef committed suicide in June. He was 61.

"In light of the recent news reports about Asia Argento, CNN will discontinue airing past episodes of Parts Unknown that included her, until further notice," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Argento was also fired as a judge on Italy's X Factor. Many prominent voices in the #MeToo moment distanced themselves and spoke out in support of Bennett coming forward with his claim.

During part one of her interview with DailyMailTV, Argento spoke about Bourdain's death, revealing that his suicide left her feeling "angry."

"I was angry [at him], yes, for abandoning my kids," she said. "But now it's been replaced just by this loss, this hole, that cannot be filled by anything."

In response to reports about her not being faithful in their relationship, Argento said of Bourdain, "He cheated on me, too."

The actress also recalled how she learned of Bourdain's death. "I received a phone call from his manager," she said. "And it was very quick. He just told me, 'Anthony took his life.' And I couldn't speak. I couldn't cry. And then I started screaming. I felt like I was in the abyss."

Argento and Bourdain began dating after meeting on the set of Parts Unknown in 2016. Prior to her relationship with Bourdain, Argento was married to director Michele Civetta, with whom she shares a son, Nicola, 10. She also shares a 17-year-old daughter, Anna, with her musician ex Marco Castoldi. Bourdain was the father of daughter Ariane, 11, with estranged wife Ottavia Busia.

Watch the second part of Argento's interview with DailyMailTV, below.