Me Too founder sounds off about Asia Argento sexual misconduct claim


Asia Argento, one of the first women to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, has been a vocal supporter of the Me Too movement, but now it seems a schism is growing between the group and the Italian actress.

Hours after The New York Times reported that Argento paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a young actor in order to settle a claim that she sexually assaulted him in 2013, Me Too founder Tarana Burke tweeted that the movement is for “all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward.”

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Adding that alleged abusers’ identities shouldn’t matter, she noted that the real issue at hand is a perpetrator’s “power and privilege.”

“My hope is that as more folks come forward, particularly men, that we prepare ourselves for some hard conversations about power and humanity and privilege and harm. This issue is less about crime and punishment and more about harm and harm reduction,” Burke wrote on Twitter. “A shift can happen. This movement is making space for possibility. But, it can only happen after we crack open the whole can of worms and get really comfortable with the uncomfortable reality that there is no one way to be a perpetrator.”

ABC News reached out to Argento and her representatives for comment on the allegations and we have not heard back.

The New York Times reported that 22-year-old actor Jimmy Bennett claims in 2013 — a couple of months after his 17th birthday — Argento, then 37, sexually assaulted him in a hotel near Los Angeles. The age of consent in California is 18. According to the newspaper, court documents indicate that Argento paid Bennett $380,000 to settle the accusations.

The New York Times also reported that a notice was sent to her former attorney Richard Hofstetter, claiming that Bennett’s income dropped from $2.7 million in the five years prior to the alleged assault to an average of $60,000 per year as a result of the trauma he suffered. Argento, who is based in Italy, has reportedly since retained attorney Carrie Goldberg, whose focus is in online attacks.

Argento is one of the 13 women included in an October 2017 New Yorker report about Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assaults that dated back decades. On Monday, Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told ABC News in a statement that the new development represents “a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento.”

“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,” he said.

Weinstein has been indicted on sex crimes accusations involving three women, but Argento is not one of them. He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Actress Rose McGowan, who also alleges that she was sexually abused by Weinstein, stated on Twitter that the new claims against Argento stunned her.

“I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein,” she wrote. “My heart is broken. 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.”