Asia Argento Denies Sexual Assault, Claims Payoff Was Anthony Bourdain's Idea

"I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false."

Italian actor Asia Argento has spoken out about recent sexual assault allegations following a New York Times report that claimed she had a sexual relationship with a man while he was a minor.

Argento released a statement, first posted by journalist Yashar Ali, where she denied having "any sexual relationship" with actor Jimmy Bennett.

In the Times report, it was revealed Bennett received $380,000 in an out-of-court settlement, however Argento claims the settlement was not out of an admission of guilt, but rather at the behest of her then-boyfriend Anthony Bourdain.

Calling the report "absolutely false", Argento said she had been "linked to [Bennett] during several years by friendship only".

"Subsequent to my exposure in the Weinstein case, Bennett -- who was then undergoing severe economic problems and who had previously undertaken legal actions against his own family requesting millions in damages -- unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money from me."

Argento was one of the women included in the first wave of accusations against Harvey Weinstein, and has been an ongoing force in the #MeToo movement. Following the Times report, Weinstein's lawyer slammed Argento for her alleged "stunning level of hypocrisy".

Throughout the rise of the #MeToo movement, Argento was supported by her partner Anthony Bourdain, who died by suicide in June.

"Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted... We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett's demand for help and give it to him," Argento wrote in the statement, adding: "Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."

Following the Times report, Argento's standing in the upcoming season of X Factor Italy has come into question, with Variety reporting FreemantleMedia and Sky Italia are facing pressure to remove the actor from the judging panel.

Meanwhile the Sherrif's Department said there was "no investigation at this point" into Argento, as the report was the first they had heard of the allegations.

Featured image: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.