The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a sexual assault allegation against Asia Argento, following the leak of documents which appear to reveal she settled a case out of court.
On Monday, the New York Times published a report based on legal documents it had obtained, in which actor Jimmy Bennett claims Argento sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room in 2013.
Bennett claims Argento performed oral sex on him, before intercourse, and the incident is alleged to have taken place two months after his 17th birthday. The age of consent in California is 18.
Captain Darren Harris, from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department issued statement confirming investigators are trying to speak to Bennett or his representatives.
In October 2018, Argento became one of the first people to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, accusing the movie producer of rape.
Since then, more than 80 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He has been charged with six counts of sexual assault, including rape. Weinstein has denied all charges and all previous allegations of rape.
The police statement, posted on the department’s Facebook page, reads: “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is aware of the media reports naming Asia Argento as being involved in an alleged 2013 incident in an area policed by our Marina Del Rey Station.
“To date, the LASD has not located any police report alleging criminal activity within our jurisdiction in relation to this incident.
“After becoming aware of the allegations, the LASD’s Special Victims Bureau is attempting to reach out to the reported victim and/or his representatives in an effort to appropriately document any potential criminal allegations.”
The documents obtained by the NYT appear to reveal that Argento settled the case out of court in late 2018, agreeing to pay Bennett $380,000 (£296,000) in instalments.
Bennett was suing, the paper adds, because the alleged assault was “so traumatic that it hindered [his] work and income and threatened his mental health”.
Along with the documents, which were sent to anonymously via encrypted email, the NYT received a photograph which is said to show Bennett and Argento in bed together. As part of the settlement, Bennett is alleged to have given Argento copyright of the image.
The actors starred as mother and son in the 2004 film ‘The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things’.
Argento became a key figure in the Me Too movement and was given a standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival, for a speech in which she said the producer used the event as a “hunting ground”.
Her representatives did not comment on Bennett’s accusations when approached by the New York Times.
HuffPost UK has contacted them for comment.