Asia Argento accuser Jimmy Bennett breaks silence on sexual assault allegation

Jimmy Bennett, the actor who accused Asia Argento of sexual assault, has broken his silence.

In a statement obtained by Deadline on Wednesday, Bennett said: “I did not initially speak out about my story because I chose to handle it in private with the person who wronged me.

“My trauma resurfaced as she came out as a victim herself. I have not made a public statement in the past days and hours because I was ashamed and afraid to be part of the public narrative.”

On Sunday, the New York Times published a bombshell report claiming Argento was accused by child star Bennett of setting up a sexual encounter with him in California in 2013 when he was 17 – below the age of consent in that state – and she was 37. (The legal age of consent in California is 18.)

Argento had worked with Bennett 10 years earlier on the 2004 film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” when he was 7 years old. He played the son of Argento’s character and the two reportedly remained close after the movie finished.

The New York Times reported, citing court documents, that the actress and former girlfriend of the late Anthony Bourdain paid roughly $380,000 to Bennett after he confronted her regarding an alleged sexual encounter that took place in 2013 in a California hotel room.

In the documents, Bennett sought to sue Argento for an alleged May 9, 2013 encounter at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, Calif. Bennett arrived with a family member but Argento reportedly sent them away so she could be alone with him. At that time, Bennett alleges that she showed him notes she had previously written to him and gave him alcohol. She then reportedly kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, performed oral sex on him and then the two had intercourse.

Argento, now 42, has denied the accusations saying in a statement given to reporter Yashar Ali on Tuesday:  “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article dated 20 August 2018, as circulated also in national and international news.

"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”

On Wednesday, TMZ published a photo and text messages that appeared to contradict Argento's claim that nothing sexual happened between she and Bennett, now 22.

The celebrity gossip site reported that the photo of Argento and Bennett – in which they both appear topless – was taken in a hotel room back in 2013. Citing “sources,” TMZ reported that the photo was taken after “intercourse.”

TMZ also published text messages reportedly “between Argento and one of her friends” this week in which a person the site claims is Argento admits to having sex with a minor. It is unclear how TMZ obtained the photo and alleged conversation.

“I had sex with him it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter,” the text message read. “The public knows nothing, only what the NYT wrote. Which is one sided. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”

TMZ included a note the site reported was written by Bennett.

"Asia, I love you with all my heart,” the note said.

A text message along side the note read: “He wrote me this afterwards and kept sending me unsolicited nudes all these years up until 2 weeks before the attorneys letter.”

The alleged conversation between Argento and a friend ends with the actress saying she “wasn’t raped” but felt “frozen.”

Argento’s lawyer and rep did not previously respond to a request for comment.

Fox News' Tyler McCarthy and Brian Flood contributed to this report.