Jimmy Bennett, an actor and musician, claims that Asia Argento sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room months before his 17th birthday. According to the New York Times, Bennett, now 22, struck a deal with Argento where she agreed to pay him $380K over the course of a year and a half, starting with an initial payment of $200,000 that was made this past April.
According to a notice sent to lawyer Richard Hofstetter, the fallout from the “sexual battery” was so traumatic for Bennett that it has reportedly hindered his career and threatened his mental health.
Here’s what you need to know about Jimmy Bennett:
1. He Played Argento’s Son In the Film ‘The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things’
Bennett was 7 when he was cast in the 2004 drama The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. The film, which Argento both directed and starred in, depicts the grim relationship between a drug-addled prostitute and her young son. Argento’s character dresses her son (played by Bennett) as a girl to lure men, and the boy is ultimately raped in the film’s final act.
According to the New York Times, Argento, 42, developed a close relationship with Bennett on the set, serving as both a mentor and a mother figure. Gordon K. Sattro, Bennett’s lawyer, wrote that “Jimmy’s impression of this situation was that a mother-son relationship had blossomed from their experience on set together.”
In addition to The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Bennett has appeared in the 2003 comedy Daddy Day Care opposite Eddie Murphy, the 2005 thriller Hostage opposite Bruce Willis, and the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, where he played a young version of James T. Kirk.
2. The Alleged Assault Took Place at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel In 2013
According to the court documents, Bennett made plans to meet up with Argento at a Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey on May 9, 2013. The young actor has an eye condition that prevents him from driving, so he was driven to the hotel with a family member.
Bennett’s account says that Argento asked the family member to leave so she could be alone with him. She gave him alcohol to drink and showed him a series of notes she had written to him on the hotel stationery. Argento then kissed Bennett, pushed him back on to the bed and removed his pants before performing oral sex. Bennett then states that she climbed on top of him and the two of them had intercourse. Afterwards, Argento reportedly asked him to take photos of her.
The two then had lunch and Bennett headed back home to his parents in Orange County. The actor said that he began to feel “extremely confused, mortified, and disgusted” on the drive home. Later that day, Argento posted a photo of them on Instagram with the caption, “Happiest day of my life reunion with @jimmymbennett xox.” She added that “jimmy is going to be in my next movie and that is a fact, dig that jack.”
3. He & Argento Were Friendly With One Another on Twitter
Leading up to the alleged assault, Bennett and Argento were friendly with one another on social media. Argento often tweeted at Bennett with compliments, referring to the actor as her “son,” and talking about how excited she is to see him again. This was most notable during the month of August 2012.
“@JimmyBennett not sure when I’ll be back but hopefully next time I’ll get to see you,” she tweeted on the 11th. “Even though I might just start crying with happiness.”
Argento tweeted at Bennett again on August 15 with the message: “@JimmyBennett I was just so proud of you and after THIDAAT I didn’t want to let you go on another set without me!” She added a second tweet that read: “Sucks I left LA! I would have followed you everywhere. I wish I hadn’t missed any of your birthdays all these years.”
Argento also posted a message to him on Instagram the day of the alleged assault. “Waiting for my long lost son my love @jimmymbennett in trepidation,” she wrote. “#marinadelrey smoking cigarettes like there was no next week.”
Bennett responded to the post by writing: “I’m almost there! :)” The post
4. He Attributes His Career Decline to His Relationship With Argento
The New York Times reports that Bennett had made more than $2.7 million in the five years before his 2013 meeting with Argento, but that his income has gone down drastically in the five years since. He now makes an estimated $60K a year. Bennett attributes his career decline to the emotional trauma that was inflicted upon him by Argento.
Bennett initially asked Argento for $3.5 million in damages, but they ultimately agreed upon $380K. A letter from Argento’s lawyer Carrie Goldberg to Argento said that the money was to help Bennett with his career. “We hope nothing like this ever happens to you again,” Goldberg wrote. “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among sh**ty individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.”
In addition to these claims, Bennett’s parents have reportedly cheated him out of at least $1.5 million. The actor says that his mother and father started a trust that they would periodically deposit his earnings into, and that they eventually barred him from their house, cutting him off from his personal belongings. He filed a lawsuit against his parents in Orange County Superior Court in October 2014. The case was settled by late December, but the terms were not disclosed.
According to Article Bio, Bennett currently has an estimated net worth of $2 million.
Bennett has also pursued a career as a musician. He released his debut single “Over Again” in 2011, and has since collaborated with artists like Sean Chambers (“Handyman”), John Ginty (“Old Shoes”), and the Bruce Katz Band (“Wild About You Baby”). The only two posts on his Instagram account are clips of him performing on his acoustic guitar. Watch them here.
5. He Came Forward Because He Felt That Argento’s Support of the #MeToo Movement Was Hypocritical
Bennett’s lawyer stated that the reason he chose to come forward with his experience is because “seeing Ms. Argento present herself as a victim of sexual assault was too much to bear.” Sattro wrote that: “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.”
While its unclear what the current relationship is between Bennett and Argento, the two have indirectly corresponded via social media. On June 8, 2013, Bennett sent Argento a Twitter message that read: “Miss you momma!!!!” with a photograph of an engraved bracelet she had given as a gift. His Twitter account has since been shut down. On July 17, 2018, Argento liked a photo that Bennett had posted of himself on Instagram (the account has since removed much of its content).
Carrie Goldberg, Argento’s lawyer, has not made an official comment. Bennett’s lawyer, released a statement that read: “In the coming days, Jimmy will continue doing what he has been doing over the past months and years, focusing on his music.”