California authorities are looking into the sexual-assault allegations recently made against actor and outspoken #MeToo advocate Asia Argento, the New York Times reports. In a Times report published Sunday, actor Jimmy Bennett said Argento paid him $380,000 after sexually assaulting him in a hotel room when he was 17. She also refused to make Bennett sign an NDA.
In a statement on Monday evening, Darren Harris, a captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said the agency is aware of the incident, which allegedly occurred back in 2013. Harris said the department had not yet “located any police report alleging criminal activity” in relation to Argento, but that it is reaching out to Bennett. Bennett’s lawyer, Gordon K. Sattro, said that he has received no such request for contact.
The initial Times report includes a selfie from May 2013, of Argento, 37 at the time, lying in bed with a 17-year-old Bennett in a hotel room in Marina del Rey, California. (The age of consent in the state is 18.) The two had initially met on set for the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, in which Argento plays Bennett’s mother.
It also includes a notice of intent to sue from November of last year, with Bennett describing an incident of “sexual battery” that he says has detrimentally affected his work and “threatened his mental health.” In the notice, Sattro wrote, “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.”
Last October, the actress joined several other women in accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, and speaking out about his history of sexual abuse. Weinstein’s New York trial for six felony charges on the basis of accounts from three different women is set to begin with a hearing next month.