Asia Argento, a prominent accuser of Harvey Weinstein, remained silent on Monday about an explosive report that she paid a financial settlement to an underage actor who accused her of sexual assault.
A New York Times piece published Sunday afternoon said Argento paid on-time costar Jimmy Bennett $380,000, after he accused the actress of assaulting him in a California hotel room when he was 17.
Neither Argento or her lawyer commented to the Times, and did not return numerous requests from TheWrap for comment on Monday.
The silence offers sharp contrast to almost a year of outspoken comments from Argento on abuse in Hollywood, and the rape she said she suffered at the hands of disgraced mogul Weinstein.
“She should have spoken ASAP. Beyond herself, she is disappointing people who have championed the cause,” one busy Hollywood crisis manager told TheWrap, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “This feels more selfish than it does cautious.”
Reactions across the industry, the movement and social media are muddled. Systemic abuse, trauma, hypocrisy and male-bashing are all topics on the table as people attempt to reconcile this news with the paradigm shift Argento helped bring with her own accusations against Weinstein — which include sexual assault, rape and verbal abuse.
“This has all become so odd, I honestly don’t know what to think,” confessed one female content producer, who is a vocal supporter of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement in Hollywood.
#MeToo founder Tarana Burke moved swiftly to counter any harm to the cause.
“People will use these recent news stories to try and discredit this movement – don’t let that happen … There is no model survivor. We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior,” Burke said.
Predictably, social media did not mince words in backing or maligning the actress.
“The aggressive response by lots of men about #AsiaArgento who remained silent about the many men justifiably brought down by the #MeToo movement does nothing to invalidate the movement, but rather serves to further prove it’s point,” wrote filmmaker Josh Edelman.
“What a despicable hypocrite. Calling out Weinstein for his terrible actions whilst remaining silent that she groomed and raped a teenager she had known since he was 7,” another user said. “Time for you to get out of the #MeToo movement @AsiaArgento, abusers are not welcome.”
Argento’s emergence as an advocate against sexual misconduct in the industry prompted Bennett to come forward, he indicated in his legal filings last year.
“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,” Bennett’s attorney wrote in his letter of intent to sue, according to the Times.