Actress Asia Argento denies sexually assaulting young actor -- and says Anthony Bourdain paid him off
Italian actress Asia Argento -- shown during the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in May -- reportedly paid $380,000 to fellow actor Jimmy Bennett, who claims she sexually assaulted him when he was 17 AFP/File / Valery HACHE

On Tuesday, actress and director Asia Argento issued a statement categorically denying all accusations that she had sexually assaulted actor Jimmy Bennett. The alleged assault occurred when Argento was 37 and the actor was 17, below the legal age of consent in California.

"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false," she wrote. "I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett."

Argento goes on to claim that the payment of $380,000 she made to Bennett, in exchange for a photo that allegedly shows them in bed, was meant to help the economically struggling actor.

Argento also said her boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, had insisted on paying Bennett to prevent "further intrusions" into their lives.

As TMZ reports, the payment was made in exchange for a photo showing Bennett and Argento in bed together. TMZ notes that the photo is not necessarily of a sexual nature, but could be interpreted as post-coital.

Argento has been an outspoken representative of the #metoo movement and was one of the first women to come forward against Harvey Weinstein.