Tarana Burke Responds to Asia Argento Report: "There Is No Model Survivor"

Randy Shropshire/Getty Images; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Tarana Burke, Asia Argento

The #MeToo founder warns against letting a new report that Argento allegedly paid off her own sexual assault accuser discredit the larger movement.

#MeToo creator Tarana Burke is asking people not to allow a new report about Asia Argento to discredit the larger movement.

In a Twitter thread on Monday morning, Burke, the activist who founded the movement long before it became a hashtag, responded to a New York Times report claiming Argento allegedly paid off her own sexual assault accuser. According to the report, Argento paid former child actor Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after Bennett claimed that in 2013, a then-37-year-old Argento assaulted him in a California hotel two months past his 17th birthday. The age of consent in California is 18.

The Italian actress was one of the first to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and one of the leading voices to spark the #MeToo and subsequent Time's Up movements. According to legal documents obtained by the Times, the accusations against Argento were sent not long after she went public with her own claims against Weinstein. Argento accused the disgraced Hollywood mogul of raping her when she was 21 as part of the bombshell New Yorker report published on Oct. 10.

"I’ve said repeatedly that the #metooMVMT is for all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward," wrote Burke, beginning her thoughts on the Argento report. "Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender."

Just like "there is no one way to be a perpetrator," Burke says, "there is no model survivor."

"We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior," she continued. "People will use these recent news stories to try and discredit this movement — don’t let that happen. This is what Movement is about. It’s not a spectator sport. It is people-generated. We get to say 'this is/isn’t what this movement is about!'"

In addition to Burke, Argento's formerly fierce ally Rose McGowan publicly distanced herself from the Italian actress. After tweeting that her "heart is broken" about the news, McGowan later added on Twitter, "None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle."

Rosanna Arquette, another Time's Up activist and Weinstein accuser, wrote on Twitter, "I know many many rape and trauma survivors who act out sexually The wounds they carry run deep. I pray for them. the timing of this story is suspect. Asia was still raped by Harvey Weinstein."

Writer, activist and Russell Simmons accuser Sil Lai Abrams also weighed in about the "complexity" of the situation via a lengthy Twitter thread, saying she was "shaking with anger at what [Argento] did to her victim and frightened about the potential implications her actions have for the #MeToo movement overall." Abrams wrote, in part, "A person can be a victim and a perpetrator. One fact does not erase the other. Irrespective of their gender, perpetrators must be held accountable." Adding, "Just because Asia Argento is a victim of Harvey Weinstein's predation doesn't mean that she should be treated differently for her own predation of an underage boy #MeToo."

Argento has not yet responded to the Times report. See Burke's full thread below.