Ben Brafman, who is representing Weinstein in his sexual misconduct cases in New York, said in a Monday statement cited by The Daily Beast: “This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein.”
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Argento sexually assaulted Jimmy Bennett, who once played her son in a movie, and paid him off so that Bennett would not sue her or publish photos of the two of them.
The incident is alleged to have taken place in 2013, shortly after Bennett’s 17th birthday, when Argento was 37. The age of consent in California is 18, meaning Argento could be charged with statutory rape if the claims are found to be credible.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office said on Monday evening that, although no police report of the case against Argento was filed at the time, its investigators would contact Bennett.
Argento has since denied the allegation of sexual assault, but said her boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, had supported Bennett economically.
The alleged payments of $380,000 were agreed on in the months after Argento told The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow that Weinstein had raped her in 1997. She added that she had multiple consensual sexual relations with Weinstein over the following five years because she felt “obliged.” She told Farrow: “After the rape, he won.”
Brafman, Weinstein’s lawyer, added on Monday: “What is perhaps most egregious is the timing, which suggests that at the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years.”
Brafman has defended Weinstein outside the courtroom in the past. He told The Times of London in March: “The casting couch in Hollywood was not invented by Harvey Weinstein.”
“If a woman decides that she needs to have sex with a Hollywood producer in order to advance her career and actually does it and finds the whole thing offensive, that’s not rape. You made a conscious decision that you’re willing to do something that is personally offensive in order to advance your career.”
Genie Harrison, a lawyer representing two Weinstein accusers— his former assistant Sandeep Rehal and the actress Louisette Geiss — told Business Insider in a statement on Monday:
“We can no longer ignore any abuse of power and must call out predatory behavior even if the alleged wrongdoer is a leader in the #MeToo movement. Ms. Argento’s reported actions against Mr. Bennett would, if true, constitute sexual battery.”
“Though it seems incomprehensible for victims to become victimizers, history and storytelling are replete with examples of exactly this transformation. Victims need support and excellent therapy to have the best chance for full recovery and healthy relationships, including with themselves.”
Rose McGowan, Argento’s friend and an actress also at the forefront of the #MeTo campaign, tweeted on Monday: “I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere.”
Business Insider has contacted her agency, and her lawyers Richard Hofstetter and Carrie Goldberg, for comment on Brafman’s remarks, as well as Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon Sattro. Business Insider also contacted them on Monday for comment on The New York Times’ story, but has yet to hear back from any of them.
After Argento denied the allegations, a spokesperson for The Times told Business Insider the publication stands by its story, “which was based on verified documents and multiple sources.”
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