Asia Argento denies sexual assault claims against her; says Anthony Bourdain paid her accuser

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Italian actress Asia Argento, a key figure in the #MeToo movement, has released a statement in response to allegations that she paid off her own sexual assault accuser.

In the statement, first obtained by journalist Yashar Ali, she denies the claims made by her former co-star Jimmy Bennett, who told The New York Times that Argento sexually assaulted him in 2013 when he was 17 and then paid him a settlement of $380,000.

"I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false," she says. “I have never had a sexual relationship with Bennett.”

Instead, she claims Bennett was undergoing financial hardships and began demanding money from her and her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain. In the end, she says it was Bourdain who paid Bennett to stop him from harassing her.

“Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us,” she writes. “We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him.”

She adds, "Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."

Argento concludes, “This is, therefore, the umpteenth development of a sequence of events that brings me great sadness and that constitutes a long-standing persecution.”

“I have therefore no other choice but to oppose such false allegations and will assume in the short term all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”

Argento was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in a New Yorker article last year.

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