Italian actress and director Asia Argento was a pillar of the #MeToo movement that brought Harvey Weinstein to his knees. But after her own sex scandal, in which it emerged that she and her ex-partner Anthony Bourdain paid off actor Jimmy Bennett to keep him quiet about an alleged sexual assault in 2013 when he was still a minor, her career spiraled. She lost her job as a judge on Italy’s X Factor, and CNN pulled the episodes that featured her with Bourdain in his series Parts Unknown before he took his own life.
But now the story has taken another unexpected twist. It turns out that Bennett has also been accused of sexual misconduct, with an underage girl, in the past.
In 2015, Bennett’s ex-girlfriend petitioned for a temporary restraining order, accusing him of stalking and threatening her, California court records show. The following month, it was dismissed after she failed to appear in court for a hearing on her allegations, according to the court docket.
Representatives for Bennett and the former girlfriend, an actress, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Daily Beast is withholding the young woman’s name because she alleged in the 14-page court document that she was the victim of sexual offenses.
In her request for a restraining order, filed with the Superior Court of California in Santa Monica on July 17, 2015, the ex-girlfriend wrote that she had previously gone to the Los Angeles Police Department to press charges against Bennett for unlawful sex with a minor, stalking, and child pornography. The LAPD said it could not confirm it took a complaint from her.
According to the court filing, she was worried that Bennett might come after her mother or another former boyfriend, with whom she had recently reunited.
“When I was 17 and Jimmy was 18, he talked me into having sex with him. I had never had sex before,” she wrote by hand in the complaint. “He continued to talk his way into my life and manipulate me into doing things like smoke. His constant attempts at calling and texting with things like ‘please talk to me, I need help’ etc. caused me to answer in the past. One time he told me that he was being abused by his parents and needed a place to stay. He was 17 at the time.”
The ex-girlfriend said the young actor frequently stopped by her apartment to see her, calling and texting to let her know he was there. “I would often tell him to leave and that I didn’t want to see him,” she wrote.
Bennett was also accused of threatening her with nude pictures of her he acquired. “When I was 17 and he was 18, he manipulated me into sending him naked photos of myself then caused me emotional harm by texting them via Snapchat,” she wrote.
In the complaint, the ex-girlfriend noted that she and her mother—who also could not be reached for comment—were both concerned Bennett or his father could “come after” them. The father declined to comment for this article.
The ex-girlfriend said she thought Bennett was “potentially violent.”
“He has a drug use history and after we broke up when I was 17 and he was 18, he wouldn’t stop harassing me via phone calls and other forms of contact,” she wrote in the complaint. “Both my mother and I felt in danger of our safety. Jimmy has lied, manipulated, and stole (allegedly) from me because my family is in a very poor financial condition, having recently gone through 2 foreclosures and bankruptcy.”
The petition was first published by Italian newspaper Fatto Quotidiano, which has championed Argento, who has otherwise been pilloried in the Italian press. Shortly after Argento’s claims that she was orally raped by Weinstein were made public in The New Yorker, several Italian newspapers chided her, with one running a headline asking, what woman doesn’t enjoy cunnilingus? The scrutiny got so vicious that she briefly fled to Germany.
The New York Times reported last month that Bennett had accused Argento of sexually abusing him in a Marina del Rey hotel room in 2013, when she was 37 and he was 17—one year shy of the age of consent in California. Text messages published by TMZ between Argento and Rain Dove, the partner of Rose McGowan, appeared to show Argento confessing to having sex with Bennett when he was underage, though she later reversed course and alleged that he attacked her. The two first met on the Argento-directed 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. Bennett, who has accused his parents of swindling him out of $1.5 million, played Argento’s onscreen son. He was 7 years old.