On August 19th, The New York Times published a report claiming that actress Asia Argento, a survivor of sexual assault and one of the #MeToo movement’s most vocal proponents, had been accused of sexually assaulting a minor—and settled the case out-of-court. After the news broke, Argento’s friend and fellow #MeToo advocate, Rose McGowan, came to her defense in what many considered to be a problematic statement. And today, August 21st, Argento herself has commented on the accusations, and her words leave much to be desired.
In a statement to journalist Yashar Ali, which Ali shared on Twitter, Argento wrote, “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article.”
The actress went on to claim that she had been friends with Bennett, a former child actor, until he started “undergoing severe economic problems” and blackmailed her. Argento wrote that her boyfriend at the time, the late chef Anthony Bourdain, agreed to give Bennett the money privately.
According to the Times, Bennett played Argento’s son in a 2004 movie and claimed that she sexually assaulted him shortly after he turned 17 in a hotel room in Los Angeles. Argento reportedly paid Bennett $380,000 in settlements. The Times also reportedly received a photo of Argento and Bennett in bed together.
Advocates of the #MeToo movement, including Argento herself, have continually called on others to listen to and believe victims. Furthermore, Argento’s current statement sounds uncannily like the denials issued by Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and countless other men in power who attempted to discredit their accusers—often claiming they were merely after money or attention.
In a Twitter thread shared on August 20th in response to the accusations against Argento, Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, stressed the importance of believing all victims, regardless of gender.
It’s disappointing to see an outspoken advocate for sexual assault survivors—and a survivor herself—cast blame on an alleged victim, and we continue to stand with all those who come forward with stories of abuse.