Argento not under investigation over sex abuse claims: police

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Italian actress and sexual abuse campaigner Asia Argento is not under investigation over bombshell allegations that she had sex five years ago with an underage teen, police told AFP on Monday.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Argento, a Harvey Weinstein accuser and leading figure in the #MeToo movement, had paid Jimmy Bennett $380,000 over the 2013 incident at a Los Angeles hotel.

The development prompted accusations of hypocrisy from Weinstein's lawyer who said that the revelations undermined her claims against his client.

Bennett was 17 at the time of the alleged assault -- a year younger than California's age of consent. A spokeswoman for the LA County Sheriff's Department said however the agency had "no open investigation."

"Enquiries will be made. At this point, it's just enquiring and gathering information, since we don't have an active investigation," Kimberly Alexander told AFP.

She said she was unaware if the department had contacted Bennett, now 22.

The actor and rock musician said Argento, 42, assaulted him in a California hotel room, according to the Times, which cited documents sent to the paper by an unidentified party.

Argento became a powerful voice for the #MeToo movement after accusing Weinstein of raping her when she was 21 in his hotel room in 1997 during the Cannes film festival.

Bennett's legal action was launched a month after Argento's accusations against Weinstein were made public, the Times said.

Bennett's lawyer claimed his client recalled the hotel encounter after seeing Argento present herself as a victim of sexual assault, according to the Times.

"This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, one of the most vocal catalysts who sought to destroy Harvey Weinstein," the mogul's lawyer Ben Brafman said.

"What is perhaps most egregious is the timing, which suggests that at the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years."

Brafman expressed shock at the "sheer duplicity" of Argento's conduct, arguing that it demonstrated how poorly the allegations against Weinstein were vetted.

There has been no comment from Argento and her representatives since the story broke.