Actress and activist Rose McGowan released a statement Monday urging fellow actress and Me Too advocate Asia Argento to “do the right thing” regarding allegations that she sexually assaulted a former co-star when he was 17 years old.
Earlier this month, a bombshell New York Times article detailed that actor Jimmy Bennett, who played Argento’s son when he was 7 years old in the film “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” reached a settlement with the Italian actress and director after accusing her of sexually assaulting him when he was 17 years old.
Argento agreed to pay Bennett a $380,000 settlement and said her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain handled the payment, though she has denied ever having a sexual relationship with Bennett.
McGowan first responded to the news last week, writing that she was heartbroken and asking the public to “be gentle” until the truth was known.
Argento and McGowan forged a friendship last year after they both publicly came forward accusing film mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting them early in their careers. They are both considered prominent leaders of the Me Too movement, which led to a nationwide reckoning on sexual misconduct and abuse of power in film, media, sports and other industries.
McGowan’s lengthy statement to the media detailed her relationship with Argento while denying complicity in any of the allegations against the Italian actress.
“Many people believe that because we have been close in each other’s lives over the past year that perhaps I am affiliated with this incident or being complicit. I am not,” she wrote.
McGowan said she and Argento had only grown close over the past year through their “shared experience” speaking out against Weinstein.
“Asia was a person who understood my trauma in a way that many others didn’t,” McGowan stated. “We were able to talk through them together and champion each other’s voices. We even got matching dot tattoos!”
McGowan said everything changed after she received a phone call and series of messages from Rain Dove, a gender non-binary supermodel she has been dating since July.
McGowan’s statement included new, unconfirmed claims, including that Rain Dove told her that Argento said she had slept with Bennett and that she had been receiving unsolicited nude photos from him since he was 12 years old.
According to McGowan, Argento never reported the texts or images to authorities or to Bennett’s parents, and hadn’t told the actor to stop sending her inappropriate photos.
McGowan said Rain Dove planned to give the texts to the police, which McGowan said she had encouraged.
“I wasted no time. It wasn’t hard to say or support,” McGowan wrote. “What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy.”
McGowan wrote that she was sad to lose Argento’s friendship, but emphasized that what had allegedly happened to Bennett is the real tragedy.
“There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE,” she said. “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.”
She ended her statement with a personal message to Argento:
“Asia you were my friend. I loved you ... Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.”
Earlier on Monday, reports surfaced that Argento had been fired as a judge on “X Factor Italy.” She will appear in seven episodes of the show that have already been filmed. The program will announce a new judge to replace her on Sept. 5.