In mid-August, the New York Times reported that Italian actress and #MeToo advocate Asia Argento had reached a deal to pay a former co-star — Jimmy Bennett — who accused her of sexually assaulting him as a minor. Shortly after, Argento’s fellow-activist and Harvey Weinstein–accuser Rose McGowan released a statement addressing the report, in which she said that text messages purporting to contradict Argento’s denial of the allegation had been handed over to police by the person she was dating, Rain Dove.
On Monday, Argento issued an initial threat: McGowan must “retract” her statement within 24 hours or face legal action. Now, on Tuesday, Argento tweeted that McGowan had missed the deadline, and that she has instructed a law firm to file a lawsuit against McGowan and Dove.
“To @rosemcgowan. The 24hr deadline given to retract your recent false statements about me has now passed,” Argento tweeted. “I must inform you & @raindovemodel that I’ve instructed Mishcon de Reya to seek substantial damages for deception, fraud, coercion and libel. You will hear from them shortly.” This was sent the day after Argento’s initial tweet, which reads:
In August, the New York Times reported that Argento had reached a deal to pay $380,000 to actor Jimmy Bennett, now 22 and her former co-star from the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. Bennett had accused Argento of sexually assaulting him in a California hotel room when he was 17 years old and she was 37. (The age of consent in California is 18.) In a statement released after the report was published, Argento “strongly” denied the allegations. However, she did admit to agreeing to pay Bennett, claiming her late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, had orchestrated the deal out of “compassion” for Bennett.
But in the days following Argento’s denial, text messages and pictures that seemed to contradict her denial began to circulate. On August 27, McGowan issued a statement about the texts, saying that they had been exchanged between Argento and Rain Dove, a gender-non-conforming activist and model. The statement reads, in part:
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.
Dove later released a statement as well, confirming that the text messages were theirs and that they had released the messages to police.
This post has been updated throughout to reflect Argento’s Tuesday tweet.