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Asia Argento denies sexual assault allegation

Asia Argento reportedly paid accuser
Asia Argento reportedly paid accuser 02:59

Italian actress Asia Argento on Tuesday denied allegations that she sexually assaulted young actor and musician Jimmy Bennett when he was 17. The New York Times reported on Sunday that the actress settled the notice of intent to sue filed by Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 in October, shortly after she accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her. 

Argento said in a statement circulated on social media that she did not have sex with Bennett, and her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, suggested she pay the settlement to avoid "negative publicity." 

"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett," Argento said in a statement. She said she was linked to Bennett "by friendship only."

Argento said that Bennett was "undergoing severe economic problems" and extorted her and Bourdain. 

"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," she said. "Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted. Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us." 

"We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett's demand for help and give it to him," she continued. "Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."

Argento also said that the allegations are part of a "long-standing persecution." She said she strongly denies the contents ofTthe New York Times article. A spokesperson for the Times responded and said, "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources."

Bennett's lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, told the Times that Argento's denial was false and that he was working with his client on a statement.

According to the Times, Bennett said in a notice of intent to sue that he had sex with Argento in a California hotel in 2013. The age of consent in California is 18. The notice said the encounter traumatized Bennett and hurt his career, the Times reported.

The newspaper said it received court documents that included a selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, the Times reported.

After the report, Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein's attorney, told CBS News' Jericka Duncan, "the degree of hypocrisy that this development demonstrates is beyond stunning." He also said that Weinstein seemed to express "almost relief" after hearing the news. 

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