Italian actress and director Asia Argento became one of the leading figures of the #MeToo movement after sharing her story about Weinstein's rape.
Best known as Anthony Bourdain's partner, Argento had been accused of being a predator herself in 2017. Jimmy Bennett alleged that Argento sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room in 2013.
At the time of the alleged assault, he was 17, and she was 37. The age of consent in California is 18.
According to the Times, Argento silently arranged to pay $380,000 to Bennett. But, some sources close to the actress made claims that Bourdain made the payments to keep her name out of the spotlight.
Rose McGowan's statement and backlash
Days before Bourdain's suicide, Argento posted a now-deleted cryptic message. As soon as people heard about Bourdain's death, many blamed his partner.
#MeToo victims and supporters, including Charmed actress Rose McGowan, defended Asia. Rose wrote an open letter, claiming:
"Many of these people who lost their ˜friend' are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person's choice."
"Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony's internal war was his war, but now she's been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony."
"Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt; I'd like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression. Blame is NOT a conversation; it is the shutting down of our collective growth. Which is where we are now."
However, McGowan changed her tune a bit in the wake of sexual allegations against Argento.
She tweeted that the two women shared horror stories regarding Weinstein's assaults and added that none of us know the truth.
Argento and her victim were in a movie together
The legal documents included in an email from a 22-year-old actor named Jimmy Bennett accusing Argento of "sexual battery." It stated that the assault occurred during a Los Angeles meeting in a hotel room.
The two starred in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Thing. Argento played Bennett's mother, who was a prostitute and directed the movie.
Bennett said that Argento offered him alcohol before kissing him. Then she performed oral sex and finally had sex with him.
The young actor claimed that he suffered from trauma, which kept him from work.
Bennett's legal team released a statement:
"In the coming days, Jimmy will continue doing what he has been doing over the past months and years, focusing on his music."
"His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein.".
They initially sent a letter to Richard Hofstetter, Bourdain's longtime attorney, and friend the Times.
According to the New York Times sources, the actress agreed to pay the Daddy Day Care actor a total of $380,000 "over the course of a year and a half."
Many wanted to know if the news was leaked to undermine the #MeToo movement as Weinstein faced rape and sexual assault charges. Others said the situation illustrates a twisted pathology of sexual assault. One traumatized victim can easily become a perpetrator.
Hofstetter initially represented Argento in the case. But she then asked Carrie Goldberg, another lawyer, to step in.
Throughout the process, the Times said, Bourdain helped Argento "navigate the matter." However, it remains a mystery how much did Bourdain know.
Argento and Bourdain against Weinstein
Asia Argento's case is still unresolved.
She was among the first women who claimed that they were raped by former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Argento stated that he assaulted her when she was 21, back in 1997.
In her speech, she explained why she waited so long to report Weinstein and shared all the horror details from the night of her rape.
Victims aren't perfect, so it's clearly possible that Asia Argento was both a predator and a victim. After her speech in Cannes, Bourdain shared with the world that he was proud of her.
He told Slate:
"I've been seeing up close … the kind of vilification and humiliation and risk and pain and terror that come with speaking out about this kind of thing."
The Kitchen Confidential author also said his girlfriend's experience prompted him to reflect on his own macho bad-boy chef's persona. Yet, the statement was published before Bennett issued his notice of intent to sue.