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Is Asia Argento the new Harvey Weinstein?

“Be the person you wish Harvey could have been” Rose McGowan urges Asia Argento to tell the truth.

Rose McGowan has released a statement revealing that she has ended her newfound friendship with Asia Argento, one of the first prominent women to speak up against Harvey Weinstein, amid sexual abuse allegations.

Argento and McGowan had met in the past and had bonded recently over similar experiences with Harvey Weinstein and similarities in their own personalities. However, recently allegations have come to light that Argento may have had a relationship with her former co-star Jimmy Bennett, who played her son in the 2004 movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, when he was 17 and she was 37.

Argento and Bennett (Source: TMZ)

Bennett released a statement commending the brave men and women who had spoken out with the #MeToo movement but also speaking on how his “trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself”. He said that he was underage at the time but went on to reveal that he would no longer move forward in silence. His full statement can be seen here: 

https://instagram.com/p/Bmy0y2wg1tL/

McGowan’s statement revealed that her partner Rain Dove, who was also friends with Argento, had received messages from Argento where she had admitted that Bennett had often texted her ‘unsolicted’ nude pictures of himself from the age of 12 and that she had never done anything to dissuade him. This news came after they had all taken a trip together to Berlin following the suicide of Argento’s boyfriend and celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain and Argento had admitted to them that she was being extorted and blackmailed by someone using a provocative image (though at the time they did not know that this was the situation that she was referring to).

Argento has admitted that she paid Jimmy Bennett $380,000 (£294,000) though she denies that any sexual conduct has taken place. These denials have continued even though a somewhat intimate image of the two of them has come to light.

In McGowan’s statement she said that not only has Asia admitted to Rain that she had slept with Jimmy but that she also told them that she had never reported the images to the authorities or to his parents or blocked him or even sent him a messaging telling him not to send them as they were inappropriate. She also said that Rain said that they were taking the messages from Argento to the authorities, which they did.

McGowan is not the only one appearing to stand with Bennett as X-Factor Italy have also removed Argento as a judge from the live shows.  She will still appear in the audition stages as they have already been recorded and it has been agreed that it would be unfair to make every re-audition in front of a new judge.

The statement ends with McGowan urging Argento to tell the truth and be the person she would have wanted Harvey Weinstein to have been.

Asia Argento and Harvey Weinstein (source: NME)

The full statement can be read below:

I would first of all like to start off this statement saying thank you for your patience. A lot of people have been demanding answers and a response to the recent events surrounding Asia Argento’s sexual assault case. Many people believe that because we have been close in each other’s lives over the past year that perhaps I am affiliated with this incident or being complicit. I am not.

I first met Asia on a red carpet, but it’s only been the past year through our shared experience of the HW case that we have bonded. Asia was a person who understood my trauma in a way that many others didn’t. We were able to talk through them together and champion each other’s voices. We even got matching dot tattoos! Something I had posted on my IG just about a month ago. It’s no secret to anyone that Im a blunt, candid, brazen individual vocally- and I think that’s what I really related to Asia the most with. They were edgy, confrontational, and strong willed with very little care about how much other’s liked or disliked them. Rare things to find in women in this industry or the world.

But then everything changed. In an instant. I received a phone call and series of messages from the being I’ve been dating- Rain Dove. They said that they had been texting with Asia and that Asia had revealed that she had indeed slept with Jimmy Bennet. Rain also shared that Asia had stated that she’d been receiving unsolicited nudes of Jimmy since he had been 12. Asia mentioned in these texts that she didn’t take any action on those images. No reporting to authorities, to the parents, or blocking of Jimmy’s social media. Not even a simple message “Don’t send me these images. They are inappropriate.” There were a few other details revealed as well that I am not at liberty to mention in this statement as investigators do their job.

Rain Dove said that they were going to go to the police with these texts once we were done speaking no matter what. But that they wanted me to be aware of them so that I may be able to take further actions. I responded with “You have to. You must.” I wasted no time. It wasn’t hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy. An hour after our conversation was finished Rain Dove confirmed that they had turned over the texts and were in conversation with officers. Almost 48 hours later the texts were in the press.

I had introduced Rain Dove to Asia Argento last month, three days after the passing of Anthony Bourdain. I was with Asia to comfort and support her. Rain Dove came to support us both. It was an emotionally chaotic time and Rain Dove suggested we go to Berlin for a couple days to take the mourning out of Asia’s home and into a neutral space. So we did. While in Berlin Asia had mentioned that she was being extorted for a large sum of money every month by someone who was blackmailing them with a provocative image. No one in the room knew who the extortionist was. Now we know it to be a reference to this case.

Rain Dove continued on communicating with Asia occasionally after meeting her- and their conversations have been their own. I know Rain is a person to whom many high profile entities consult when they are experiencing social pressures because Rain is good at guiding them through the research confrontation, rehabilitation, and solution process. While they are a person who is good at keeping a secret for those dedicated to making things right- they are also justice driven. So it was not a surprise to me that I received that call and the messages from them. I’ve referred to Asia in the past as “My Ride or Die” and said very clearly that their friendship comes first. I know that coming to me with those messages must have been hard for Rain because of that so I commend them for their bravery.

To the people who have checked in with me to see if I’m alright- the answer is thank you and Yes. I’ll be fine. Its sad to lose a friend connection, but whats even more sad is what happened to Jimmy Bennet. Whether or not the extortion case is true- it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. It is the type of thing I fight against alongside so many. The reason I haven’t released a statement is because I’ve frankly been extremely humbled by this event. I had to take a step back and realise that in my own activism while I fight hard with passion- I need to evolve. In the past I have been occasionally angry. As a victim I was justified in fiery feelings. But I know that those accused are the friends, parents, and family members of other people. There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. Victims also shouldn’t be told how they should react or what they should say about their abusers. However as allies to the victim and voyeurs of an event we should find a better way to balance support of the victim with due process for the accused. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself.

At this current moment it may be easy to focus on the drama of the situation. The conspiracy. But the real focus should be on supporting justice. Supporting honesty. And supporting each other. We can not let this moment break the momentum of a movement that has freed so many people. We must use it to allow us to become stronger. More compassionate. More aware. And More organised.

Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better- I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.

In light of the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey should Argento do as McGowan suggests? Is she the new Weinstein?

Emmabelle Nwadikwa
Emmabelle is a graduate of psychology from the University of Hull and is currently studying at the University of Law. She writes poetry, short stories and is currently a journalist for TCS. Follow her on twitter @_Emmabelle

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