Dario Argento Defends Daughter, Claims An "Air of Conspiracy" Over Allegations

Dario Argento - Getty - H 2018
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Dario Argento

The horror maestro says his daughter will fight back against the sexual assault allegations against her and speculates that Harvey Weinstein might be behind the entire operation.

Asia Argento’s father, famed horror writer and director Dario Argento, has defended his daughter amid allegations she sexually assaulted a young actor.

In an interview published Wednesday in Italian newspaper La Stampa, Argento claimed "there is an air of conspiracy" around the allegations that Asia Agento sexually assaulted former child actor Jimmy Bennett in 2013, when Bennett was 17 and Argento was 37.

The New York Times first published the claims, revealling legal documents that lay out Bennett's assault claim and show Argento paid Bennett $380,000 earlier this year. Argento has acknowledged making the secret payment to Bennett but denied she ever had a sexual relationship with an underage male. She claims her then-boyfriend, the late Anthony Bourdain, pushed her to pay off Bennett so that he would stop harassing them.

In the interview, Argento senior said "my daughter will fight" the allegations, adding that "everything that is happening puts me in a negative state of mind, it is a sequence of unpleasant events." He speculated that there could be a connection between the recent revelations surrounding his daughter and Bennett and disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein. Asia Agento was one of the first women to come forward publicly to claim Weinstein had sexually assaulted them. She has remained one of Weinstein's most outspoken accusers. 

“I'm only making assumptions, but certainly, since Asia decided to make her accusation [against Harvey Weinstein] there have been violent reactions, even in Italy, by politicians,” Dario Agento told La Stampa. “Many have attacked her.” He singled out two particularly vicious critics: Italian politicians Vittorio Sgarbi and Matteo Salvini.

Argento said he had the impression "there was something shady, false or at least very strange," in the Bennett story, as reported, but did not provide any new facts to back up his impressions. "We have to see if the accusations are true. I do not think so," he added. Argento speculated that the Bennett allegations against his daughter could be the result of an "organized attempt at putting her in a bad light ... that Weinstein told his lawyers to dig up dirt on her."

Asia Agento has come under fire since the Bennett allegations were made public. Weinstein lawyer Ben Brafman spoke out the very next day after the Times report, accusing the Italian actress of "a stunning level of hypocrisy." Argento was set to star in Sky Italia's X Factor as a judge of the TV talent show, which premieres Sept. 6, but producers FreemantleMedia Italia say she will be dropped if the assault allegations are confirmed.