When #MeToo figurehead Asia Argento was accused of sexually assaulting a teenager, she flat-out denied it had ever happened—but photos and messages leaked to TMZ appear to show her confessing to having sex with him.
The claim that Argento paid off Jimmy Bennett—years after alleged sexual contact when he was just 17 and legally underage—rocked the #MeToo movement. But Argento, who was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, came out fighting, saying she was “deeply shocked and hurt” by the reports and denying she’d had a sexual relationship with him.
The leaked messages appear to tell a different story. In one message purported to be from Argento to an unnamed friend, she confesses to having sex with Bennett, saying she didn’t know he was underage until she got a legal threat about the encounter. A leaked selfie also purports to show the two shirtless in bed together in a California hotel room in 2013.
The person TMZ identifies as Argento texts: “I had sex with him and it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter. The public knows nothing, only what [The New York Times] wrote. Which is one-sided. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”
The message directly contradicts what Argento said Tuesday about her previous relationship with the teenager. In that statement, she said: “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with [the accuser].”
In the messages, Argento also appears to address the leaked photo of the two apparently in bed together. She writes: “You can see my tits. That’s all. It doesn’t mean shit. He is standing up.”
TMZ also published what it claims to be a note from Bennett to Argento in which he appears to confess his love to her. Argento apparently sent a photo of the letter to a friend with the message: “He wrote me this afterwards and kept sending me unsolicited nudes all these years up until 2 weeks before the attorneys letter.”
She reportedly went on to say about her alleged encounter: “It wasn’t raped [sic] but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since was 12.”
Argento has not yet commented on the leaked messages. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it was reaching out to the accuser in order to determine if a criminal investigation against Argento is warranted.
But if she is punished for the alleged encounter, Argento already appears to have a plan, according to the messages. She wrote in one of them: “If I lose my job I will move to Africa or the Amazon forest. I want to be among the 90% of the world that doesn’t give a fuck about this shit.”