Rose McGowan to Asia Argento After Sexual Assault Claim: "Do the Right Thing"

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Rose McGowan

McGowan issued a lengthy statement in response to the allegations facing her onetime friend and #MeToo ally: "Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey [Weinstein] could have been."

On Aug. 19, The New York Times published a bombshell of a story with a headline that read, "Asia Argento, a #MeToo Leader, Made a Deal With Her Own Accuser." Details of the story were shocking to say the least: Argento agreed to a pay a $380,000 settlement to Jimmy Bennett — a young actor who played her son when he was 7 years old in the film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, which she co-wrote, directed and starred in — after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013 when he was 17 years old. (Argento has admitted to the payout, but has denied all charges.)

Almost immediately, online critics demanded that Rose McGowan respond to the allegations facing her friend and fellow #MeToo activist. After all, the two had grown close over the past year after they both stepped forward with horrific allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein. McGowan answered the call, but only briefly, by tweeting on Aug. 20 that her "heart is broken," before adding (and later deleting), "I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere. None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle."

McGowan made sure more was revealed on Monday when she issued a lengthy statement via her former reps at marketing and PR agency Brigade Marketing. (The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the validity of the statement with McGowan, who added, "I believe in justice.") In the statement, McGowan further distances herself from Argento by using past tense to refer to the status of their friendship, and she calls on Argento to clear the air in the wake of the misconduct allegations. "Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement," she writes. "I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better — I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been."

McGowan, who has risen to be a prominent voice in the #MeToo and Time's Up era, also provides a detailed description of the course of events that led to the revelation of private texts Argento sent in which she admits to engaging in an inappropriate relationship with Bennett. A photo of Argento in bed with Bennett was also revealed. Those texts were first published by TMZ. In explaining the situation, McGowan details a new romantic relationship with a gender non-binary model and activist named Rain Dove. (McGowan first hinted at a relationship with Dove in a THR cover story earlier this year.) 

"I received a phone call and series of messages from the being I’ve been dating — Rain Dove," McGowan writes before using Dove's preferred use of pronouns of they and them. "They said that they had been texting with Asia and that Asia had revealed that she had indeed slept with Jimmy Bennett. Rain also shared that Asia had stated that she’d been receiving unsolicited nudes of Jimmy since he had been 12. Asia mentioned in these texts that she didn’t take any action on those images. No reporting to authorities, to the parents, or blocking of Jimmy’s social media. Not even a simple message, 'Don’t send me these images. They are inappropriate.'"

McGowan said she then encouraged Dove to take the texts to authorities. "You have to. You must," she writes in her statement. "I wasted no time. It wasn’t hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy. An hour after our conversation was finished Rain Dove confirmed that they had turned over the texts and were in conversation with officers. Almost 48 hours later the texts were in the press."

Walking through this situation with her current romantic partner and watching her onetime ally succumb to similar accusations that the two had fought so strongly against has been a challenge for McGowan, she writes, hence why it has taken her so long to speak out. Twitter critics were quick to also question why it had taken McGowan so long when in the past, she demanded others break the code of silence immediately. She acknowledges that as well as her own anger, and reveals that the situation has helped her evolve. 

"The reason I haven’t released a statement is because I’ve frankly been extremely humbled by this event. I had to take a step back and realise that in my own activism while I fight hard with passion — I need to evolve," she writes. "In the past I have been occasionally angry. As a victim I was justified in fiery feelings. But I know that those accused are the friends, parents, and family members of other people. There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. Victims also shouldn’t be told how they should react or what they should say about their abusers. However as allies to the victim and voyeurs of an event we should find a better way to balance support of the victim with due process for the accused. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself."

Days after McGowan came forward, Dove released their own statement to the Times, saying they turned over the Argento text messages to the Los Angeles police. "I turned in materials that may contribute to an honest investigation,” the model said. Reflecting on Argento's denial of a sexual relationship with Bennett, Dove added, "I’m not trying to say we should put anyone in jail or punish anyone, but I think everyone should come to the table with the truth."

The Times said the text messages were handed over to the L.A. Country Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the case. When reached by The Hollywood Reporter about Dove's statement, the LAPD said, "We have no knowledge of [the text messages]."

Bennett's lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, also told the Times that his client has not spoken with the police, but detectives have reached out.

Dove, similar to McGowan, urged Argento to "come clean" with the truth in her statement. The story states that McGowan has broken off contact with Argento after she accused both McGowan and Dove of leaking the texts to the media, a claim they are both denying. Dove now says they only shared the texts with a small circle of people seeking advice.

Read Dove's full statement to the Times here.

Read McGowan's full statement, below.

I would first of all like to start off this statement saying thank you for your patience. A lot of people have been demanding answers and a response to the recent events surrounding Asia Argento’s sexual assault case. Many people believe that because we have been close in each other’s lives over the past year that perhaps I am affiliated with this incident or being complicit. I am not.

I first met Asia on a red carpet, but it’s only been the past year through our shared experience of the HW case that we have bonded. Asia was a person who understood my trauma in a way that many others didn’t. We were able to talk through them together and champion each other’s voices. We even got matching dot tattoos! Something I had posted on my IG just about a month ago. It’s no secret to anyone that I'm a blunt, candid, brazen individual vocally — and I think that’s what I really related to Asia the most with. They were edgy, confrontational, and strong willed with very little care about how much other’s liked or disliked them. Rare things to find in women in this industry or the world.

But then everything changed. In an instant. I received a phone call and series of messages from the being I’ve been dating — Rain Dove. They said that they had been texting with Asia and that Asia had revealed that she had indeed slept with Jimmy Bennet. Rain also shared that Asia had stated that she’d been receiving unsolicited nudes of Jimmy since he had been 12. Asia mentioned in these texts that she didn’t take any action on those images. No reporting to authorities, to the parents, or blocking of Jimmy’s social media. Not even a simple message “Don’t send me these images. They are inappropriate.” There were a few other details revealed as well that I am not at liberty to mention in this statement as investigators do their job.

Rain Dove said that they were going to go to the police with these texts once we were done speaking no matter what. But that they wanted me to be aware of them so that I may be able to take further actions. I responded with “You have to. You must.” I wasted no time. It wasn’t hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy. An hour after our conversation was finished Rain Dove confirmed that they had turned over the texts and were in conversation with officers. Almost 48 hours later the texts were in the press.

I had introduced Rain Dove to Asia Argento last month, three days after the passing of Anthony Bourdain. I was with Asia to comfort and support her. Rain Dove came to support us both. It was an emotionally chaotic time and Rain Dove suggested we go to Berlin for a couple days to take the mourning out of Asia’s home and into a neutral space. So we did. While in Berlin Asia had mentioned that she was being extorted for a large sum of money every month by someone who was blackmailing them with a provocative image. No one in the room knew who the extortionist was. Now we know it to be a reference to this case.

Rain Dove continued on communicating with Asia occasionally after meeting her- and their conversations have been their own. I know Rain is a person to whom many high profile entities consult when they are experiencing social pressures because Rain is good at guiding them through the research confrontation, rehabilitation, and solution process. While they are a person who is good at keeping a secret for those dedicated to making things right- they are also justice driven. So it was not a surprise to me that I received that call and the messages from them. I’ve referred to Asia in the past as “My Ride or Die” and said very clearly that their friendship comes first. I know that coming to me with those messages must have been hard for Rain because of that so I commend them for their bravery.

To the people who have checked in with me to see if I’m alright- the answer is thank you and Yes. I’ll be fine. Its sad to lose a friend connection, but whats even more sad is what happened to Jimmy Bennet. Whether or not the extortion case is true- it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. It is the type of thing I fight against alongside so many. The reason I haven’t released a statement is because I’ve frankly been extremely humbled by this event. I had to take a step back and realise that in my own activism while I fight hard with passion- I need to evolve. In the past I have been occasionally angry. As a victim I was justified in fiery feelings. But I know that those accused are the friends, parents, and family members of other people. There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. Victims also shouldn’t be told how they should react or what they should say about their abusers. However as allies to the victim and voyeurs of an event we should find a better way to balance support of the victim with due process for the accused. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself.

At this current moment it may be easy to focus on the drama of the situation. The conspiracy. But the real focus should be on supporting justice. Supporting honesty. And supporting each other. We can not let this moment break the momentum of a movement that has freed so many people. We must use it to allow us to become stronger. More compassionate. More aware. And More organised.

Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better — I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.

Aug. 30, 7:30 a.m. Updated with Dove's statement to the Times.

Ryan Parker and Jackie Strause contributed to this story.