Earlier this month, The New York Times published a report titled "Asia Argento, #MeToo Leader, Made A Deal With Her Own Accuser." The piece alleges that the Italian film star had sex with 17-year-old actor Jimmy Bennett when Argento herself was 37, and that she paid him £2850,000 in order to keep the situation quiet.
Argento publicly denied that she had a sexual relationship with Bennett. TMZ later released text messages, allegedly between Argento and another person, that implied a sexual encounter did occur, as well as a photo of Argento and Bennett in what appears to be a bed. (Refinery29 has reached out to Argento for comment.)
In a statement sent to Refinery29, McGowan says that she considered Argento a friend who "understood [her] trauma in a way that many others didn't." (McGowan also accused disgraced film producer Weinstein of sexual assault.)
McGowan revealed, in her statement, how she first came to believe the validity of the accusation against Argento.
"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 [sic]. 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."
McGowan implied that Dove was the one texting with Argento in the messages obtained by TMZ.
"Rain Dove said that they were going to go to the police with these texts once we were done speaking no matter what. But that they wanted me to be aware of them so that I may be able to take further actions. I responded with 'You have to. You must.' I wasted no time. It wasn’t hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy. An hour after our conversation was finished Rain Dove confirmed that they had turned over the texts and were in conversation with officers. Almost 48 hours later the texts were in the press."
McGowan also stated that, following the death by suicide of Argento's longtime partner Anthony Bourdain, she spoke of being extorted for a large sum of money — which McGowan now believes was a reference to Bennett.
McGowan stated that she was "humbled" by Argento accusation and made it clear where her line is on sexual assault, no matter who the perpetrator.
"There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. Victims also shouldn’t be told how they should react or what they should say about their abusers. However as allies to the victim and voyeurs of an event we should find a better way to balance support of the victim with due process for the accused. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself."
She concluded with:
"Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better- I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been."
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.