Jimmy Bennett opens up about ‘trauma’ suffered from Asia Argento encounter as new details emerge

When Asia Argento broke her silence Tuesday about the allegations that she sexually assaulted former child star Jimmy Bennett, she said there was no sexual relationship between them. On Wednesday, Bennett refuted those remarks as he spoke out for the first time about the “trauma” he suffered during an encounter with Argento in 2013 and an explanation for why he never went public until now.

“Many brave women and men have spoken out about their own experiences during the #MeToo movement, and I appreciate the bravery that it took for each and every one of them to take such a stand,” Bennett, now a 22-year-old musician, said in a statement obtained by Yahoo.

“I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me. My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative.”

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Jimmy Bennett

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LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 19: Actor Jimmy Bennett arrives at the 38th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards held at the Las Vegas Hilton on June 19, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Cast member Jimmy Bennett attends the premiere of the film “Movie 43” in Los Angeles January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten (UNITED STATES – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE)

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 23: Actor Jimmy Bennett poses with a wax figure of Britney Spears at the after party for the premiere of Relativity Media’s ‘Movie 43’ at Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood on January 23, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 27: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends the special screening of ‘A Girl Like Her’ at The ArcLight Hollywood on March 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

Jimmy Bennett arriving at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

A behind the scenes shot of Jimmy Bennett during his video shoot For ‘Walk This Way’ on July 30, 2011 in Huntington Beach, California.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 27: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends the special screening of ‘A Girl Like Her’ at The ArcLight Hollywood on March 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actors Lexi Ainsworth, Hunter King and Jimmy Bennett attend the special screening of ‘A Girl Like Her’ at The ArcLight Hollywood on March 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Actors Jimmy Bennett, Lexi Ainsworth and Hunter King attend the special screening of ‘A Girl Like Her’ at The ArcLight Hollywood on March 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 13: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends Elizabeth Stanton’s 18th Birthday benefiting Toys For Tots at Belasco Theatre on December 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 13: Actor Jimmy Bennett arrives at Elizabeth Stanton’s 18th birthday benefiting Toys for Tots at Belasco Theatre on December 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 21: Jimmy Bennett arrives at the ’21 And Over’ – Los Angeles Premiere at Westwood Village on February 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 21: Actor Jimmy Bennett arrives at the premiere of Relativity Media’s ’21 And Over’ at the Village Theatre on February 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 21: Actor Jimmy Bennett arrives at the premiere of Relativity Media’s ’21 And Over’ at the Village Theatre on February 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – FEBRUARY 15: Actress Jennifer Veal (L) and actor Jimmy Bennett speak during the 21st Annual Movieguide Awards at the Universal Hilton Hotel on February 15, 2013 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 08: Jimmy Bennett arrives at The Grammy Awards: Friends ‘N’ Family Party at Paramount Studios on February 8, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – FEBRUARY 15: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends the 21st Annual Movieguide Awards at Universal Hilton Hotel on February 15, 2013 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JANUARY 23: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends the premiere of Relativity Media’s ‘Movie 43’ at TCL Chinese Theatre on January 23, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 20: Singer Jimmy Bennett performs on stage at Associated Television International’s 2012 Hollywood Christmas Parade Concert at Universal CityWalk’s 5 Towers on November 20, 2012 in Universal City, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 20: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends Associated Television International’s 2012 Hollywood Christmas Parade Concert at Universal CityWalk’s 5 Towers on November 20, 2012 in Universal City, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – SEPTEMBER 15: Actor Jimmy Bennett arrives at Variety’s Power of Youth presented by Cartoon Network at Paramount Studios on September 15, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – APRIL 26: Actor Jimmy Bennett attends the World Premiere of ‘Jewtopia’ at the Newport Beach Film Festival at Edwards Big Newport 300 on April 26, 2012 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/WireImage)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – FEBRUARY 10: Actor Jimmy Bennett arrives for the 20th Annual Movieguide’s Faith & Values Awards Gala held at Universal Hilton Hotel on February 10, 2012 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 10: Actress Rachel G. Fox and actor Jimmy Bennett attend the NYLON Magazine 13th anniversary celebration at Smashbox West Hollywood on April 10, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 09: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actor/singer Jimmy Bennett performs at his Rockin’ Sweet 16! Birthday party at Hard Rock Cafe, Hollywood on February 9, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Beck Starr/WireImage)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – DECEMBER 06: Jimmy Bennett attends Popstar! Magazine Celebrates Their Break-through Artists Of 2012 on December 6, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 22: Singer Jimmy Bennett arrives at the Hollywood Christmas Parade 2011 Concert at Universal CityWalk on November 22, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 22: Actor/singer Jimmy Bennett attends the U.S. Marine Corps Host CityWalk Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and concert on November 22, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 09: Jimmy Bennett arrives for the 3rd Annual Los Angeles Haunted Hayride VIP Premiere Night held at Griffith Park on October 9, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 03: Event co-host, actress Brenda Song and actor Jimmy Bennett attend the launch of the MetroPCS Huawei M835 sanctioned by tokidoki at the tokidoki flagship store on November 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Phones will be available in retail stores on November 18, 2011. 15% of all sales from the evening went to 1love.org, benefiting random acts of kindness everywhere. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for MetroPCS)

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 18: Actor Jimmy Bennett poses at his Single Release Party and Sunset Strip Music Festival Pre-Party at Silver Spoon on August 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/WireImage)

A behind the scenes shot of Jimmy Bennett during his video shoot For ‘Walk This Way’ on July 30, 2011 in Huntington Beach, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 06: Actors Bella Thorne (L) and Jimmy Bennett arrive at the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures’ ‘Mars Needs Moms’ at the El Capitan Theater on March 6, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jimmy Bennett arriving at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

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He continued, “I was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy. I have had to overcome many adversities in my life, and this is another that I will deal with, in time. I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.”

Bennett released his statement hours after a picture of them in bed surfaced online — as well as a series of text messages that the Italian actress and #MeToo activist, 42, reportedly wrote following the New York Times exposé on how she paid off Bennett to make his claims go away.

After Argento said, “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett” in a statement, the website TMZ posted a photo of the pair together in bed — purportedly during a 2013 encounter at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, Calif. While their full bodies aren’t visible, the parts that can be seen are unclothed. Argento and Bennett, who played her son in a 2004 movie, are cuddled up with their heads resting on a pillow. At the time he was 17 and legally a minor. According to the website, “Sources tell TMZ the pic was taken after the 2 had intercourse.”

Of course, according to the original New York Times report that revealed the allegations earlier this week, Bennett claimed it was sexual assault, which led to emotional issues for him. That’s why, through his lawyer, he threatened to sue Argento last year — one month after she went public claiming that a now disgraced Harvey Weinstein raped her. Part of Bennett’s $ 380,000 settlement — which Argento said was arranged by her then boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain — included that Argento be given the rights to a photo of them, taken by Bennett, in bed that day. According to TMZ, there are actually four photos of them together in total. She shared other photos of them from the 2013 meetup online — and they remain on her Instagram page.

But that’s not all TMZ has. The website also posted a series of text messages that it claims Argento wrote in the wake of the New York Times piece breaking on Sunday night. If true, they tell a very different story. In one, she reportedly wrote, “The public knows nothing, only what NYT wrote. Which is one sided. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”

Asked if the encounter between them was rape, the response was, “I had sex with him it felt weird. I didn’t know he was minor until the shakedown letter.” Another message said, “I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since [he] was 12.”

Yahoo Entertainment reached out to Argento’s attorney, Carrie Goldberg, who handled the settlement and was also referenced in TMZ’s text messages, to find out if the texts were in fact written by Argento. She hasn’t yet responded.

Meanwhile, the messages also claimed that Bennett had been sending Argento “unsolicited nudes” after the encounter for years — up until two weeks before the “shakedown.” Another message was dismissive of Bennett being underage. It talked about the age of consent being different in Italy (14) and France (15): “When I was 17 I was with a 33 year old man for years. I had just turned 17.” The texts also said that Goldberg, thought to be Argento’s attorney who handled the matter, wanted to go to the press instead of settling with Bennett to “show the extortion I was being threatened with.” And it said that if she lost her job over this, she’d “move to Africa or the Amazon forest. I want to be among the 90% of the world that doesn’t give a f*** about this s***. Not the conniving, sick 10% of the entitled westerners.”

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Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain together

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LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 09: Actor Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain attend day 1 of the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 09: Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain attend the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 09: Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain attend the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 12: Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento attend the 2018 Women In The World Summit at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on April 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Chef Anthony Bourdain and actor Asia Argento attend the 2018 Women In The World Summit at Lincoln Center on April 12, 2018 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 12: Chef Anthony Bourdain and actor Asia Argento attend the 2018 Women In The World Summit at Lincoln Center on April 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)

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There are also several references to Bourdain, who has been pulled into this saga and can’t defend himself. In her statement, Argento wrote that Bourdain, who died by suicide in July, “was afraid of the negative publicity” and considered Bennett “dangerous,” so he made the settlement happen. Among the messages was one that said Bourdain was “pushing me” to pay off Bennett, as well as that Bourdain hired a private investigator to get dirt on Bennett, digging up 80 pages’ worth of info. But a message claimed she didn’t want to expose Bennett with the info because she viewed him as a “failed child actor, a casualty of the machine.”

Another document TMZ received was a note — purportedly from Bennett — written on Ritz-Carlton hotel stationery that said: “Asia, I love you with all my heart. So glad we met again and I’m so glad your in my life.” It was signed “Jimmy” with a smiley face.

Argento was one of the first actresses to speak out about Weinstein, claiming in the now infamous New Yorker piece that he raped her. (Weinstein has repeatedly denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.) After the Times exposé came out about Argento’s settlement with Bennett, Weinstein’s attorney, Ben Brafman, released a blistering attack on her, saying, in part, “This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein.” Weinstein’s lawyer has his hands full: Wednesday it was reported that actress Emma Loman has filed a lawsuit against Weinstein, currently facing rape charges in New York, alleging he raped her at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival in France.

As far as what’s next with the Argento case? The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is looking into whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

[UPDATE at 2:10 p.m. PT: This story was revised with Bennett’s statement.]

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