Celebrities and activists are responding to a New York Times report alleging that Italian actress Asia Argento made arrangements to pay off a young actor who accused Argento of sexual assault. According to the report, Argento arranged to pay the actor and musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he said Argento sexually assaulted him in a hotel room in California.
Argento was one of the first women to come forward with public accusations of sexual assault against producer Harvey Weinstein. At least 87 people have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including actress Rose McGowan, who has been an outspoken critic of Weinstein and an advocate of the #MeToo movement. McGowan has since responded to the accusations against Argento on Twitter.
“My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere,” the actress wrote in a tweet. “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.”
Rosanna Arquette, who also accused Weinstein of sexual abuse, called the timing of the story “suspect,” but added that it does not take away the fact that “Asia was still raped by Harvey Weinstein.”
In a Twitter thread on Monday morning, #MeToo founder and organizer Tarana Burke warned that allegations against Argento should not discredit the movement as a whole. Burke detailed some of the complexities of sexual violence, and wrote, “Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist, or professor of any gender.”
Burke continued, “This movement is making space for possibility,” and explained, “there is no one way to be a perpetrator.” Similarly, she said, “There is no model survivor. We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior.”
Writer and activist Sil Lai Abrams, who accused Russell Simmons of rape, also wrote about the complexities of the accusations against Argento in a Twitter thread. She wrote that she was both angry at the allegations, and also concerned about the possibility that it would derail the movement.
However, an individual can be both a perpetrator and a victim, Abrams explained. “One fact does not erase the other,” she wrote. “Irrespective of their gender, perpetrators must be held accountable.”