Actress Asia Argento has responded to the bombshell allegation that she herself has sexually abused someone with a forceful denial—and she also brings her former boyfriend, the late Anthony Bourdain, into the picture. In a statement to journalist Yashar Ali, Argento begins with the denial: “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article,” she writes. “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.” The latter is Jimmy Bennett, now 22, who says Argento paid him $380,000 to cover up a sexual encounter that occurred when he was 17, below the age of consent in California. Argento says the two had only a friendship, one that ended last fall when Bennett "unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me."
Argento says Bennett made the demand after Argento came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein, and she says he did so because Bourdain was "a man of great perceived wealth." She says Bourdain, who committed suicide in June, decided to pay Bennett the money. "Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us," she writes. "We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and gave it to him." Bourdain, she adds, "personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.” Meanwhile, Weinstein's attorney characterizes his client's reaction to the allegations against Argento as "almost relief," reports CBS News. (Read more Asia Argento stories.)