COMING FORWARD

Asia Argento’s Accuser Jimmy Bennett: I Was ‘Ashamed and Afraid’ to Speak Out

Jimmy Bennett—the actor who was thrust into the national spotlight Sunday when The New York Times revealed documents alleging he was sexually assaulted, and later paid off, by Asia Argento in 2013—spoke out Wednesday about his experience and previous decision to stay silent. “I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me,” Bennett said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.” His words come days after Argento vehemently denied the allegations, and just hours after TMZ released alleged photos and text messages that cast doubt on Argento’s denials. “I was underage when the event took place,” Bennett added, “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.” Prior to Bennett’s allegations, Argento was seen as a leading voice in the #MeToo movement, as one of the first to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. But in the wake of the accusations, some of the movements leaders, like Tarana Burke and Rose McGowan, have distanced themselves from her.