On Tuesday, Italian actress Asia Argento — a prominent #MeToo leader as the first woman to publicly accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault — broke her silence over the recent report that she paid off an actor hundreds of thousands of dollars when he accused her of sexual assaulting him as a minor.
In a stunning statement, Argento denied the accusation of sexual assault, but confessed to paying off her accuser — which was where her taking ownership of the incident ended.
Argento suggested the accuser, child actor Jimmy Bennett, was lying about the nature of their relationship and was merely seeking money, as she noted his past dealings with his family.
“I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false,” reads Argento’s statement, which was first obtained by journalist Yashar Ali. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
She continued, “Bennett — who was undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages — unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me. Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth, and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect.”
Argento also said it was actually her then-boyfriend, late television star Bourdain, who told her it was best they keep the matter private and offer Bennett a payoff to evade further harassment.
“Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted,” she said, adding, “Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
“This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution,” added Argento. “I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”
That would be irony smacking you in the face, right now.
If those behind the #MeToo movement, which Argento helped to create, had any consistency, they would rip her apart for this statement. If Argento weren’t one of their own, the movement would have the actress’ head for using the alleged victim’s past to discredit his claim against her.
This is not to say that Argento is lying, of course, but to point out that the rules of #MeToo, while ostensibly well-intended, can be severely damaging, fostering a culture that vilifies and destroys without evidence. “Believe all victims,” they are fond of saying, until they are not.
It’s predictable, almost, that the rules of the movement Argento helped to create are now being asked to be ignored in her case. As we’ve seen time and again, mob movements always eat themselves.