British actress Lysette Anthony has offered a staunch defense of fellow Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento, who is currently facing an accusation that she sexually assaulted former child star Jimmy Bennett.
“I’m going to be flayed alive for speaking out, but I cannot stand by while Asia Argento is hurled under a bus,” Anthony wrote in a column for U.K.’s The Sunday Times. “She has been extraordinarily courageous standing up to Weinstein. And now she’s being punished. She’s being vilified and abused.”
Last Sunday, The New York Times reported that Argento — the actress-director who was one of the first women to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault and has since been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement — had paid a $380,000 settlement to Bennett, who accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013 when he was just 17.
Argento released a statement last Tuesday in which she rebuts the allegation, saying, “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article. I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”
That denial moved Anthony to speak up. “When Asia told her story it was absolutely akin to mine and I cannot in good conscience let her carry the burden,” Anthony wrote. “It’s shaming and humiliating to stand up and say that man abused, raped and humiliated me and seriously damaged my career for many years.”
In her column, Anthony brought up that journalist Ronan Farrow reported the tactics Weinstein would use to prevent people from coming forward. Although Anthony doesn’t say that she believes some form of this is what happened to Argento, she does go on to say: “We should remind everyone that Weinstein paid former Mossad agents to obtain information. I have also been battling against a ‘little spy’ of my own whom I suspect may have been conducting a fishing operation. I obviously got the budget version.”
Weinstein’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman said in a statement to TheWrap: “Neither Mr Weinstein nor any of his agents or representatives had anything whatsoever to do with exposing the hypocrisy and lies that will now and forever personify Asia Argento. For Ms Anthony to suggest otherwise without any basis in fact is to engage in exactly the same false narrative that brought shame and disgrace to Ms Argento. Mr Weinstein has referred these totally false allegations to his U.K. libel lawyer, Paul Tweed, to decide on what appropriate legal action is warranted.”
Weinstein has consistently denied that he ever engaged in non-consensual sex.
Anthony, a British soap star of “Hollyoaks,” came out last October in an interview with the Sunday Times and accused Weinstein of raping her in 1982.
“I know people have been sitting around dinner tables looking to find us complicit. But this is not a story of actresses trying to further their careers. This is the story of a predator and a rapist. He’s hurt a shocking number of women,” Anthony wrote.
Anthony said she is currently working with police both in the U.K. and in the U.S. regarding the Weinstein cases and believes “the day of judgment for Harvey Weinstein is fast approaching.” She went on to say that if Weinstein is ever extradited to the U.K., that a British case will be primed and ready.
“I have been intimidated, bullied and frightened, but he seriously underestimated me. He is not a monster in a fairy tale, but a disgusting man who has preyed on, abused and hurt dozens of women,” Anthony wrote. “If you don’t understand, be thankful, because no one should have to go through what I went through — or what Asia is going through now. It’s barbaric.”