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Why Asia Argento is threatening to sue Rose McGowan

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Moya Crockett
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Argento says that McGowan committed “libel” in a statement she issued about an alleged sexual assault.

The actress and #MeToo advocate Asia Argento has demanded that Rose McGowan retract a statement she made following a sexual assault allegation against Argento.

On Twitter, Argento wrote that she would take legal action against McGowan if she refused to “retract and apologise for the horrendous lies made against me in your statement of August 27th”. 

Argento, who has said that Harvey Weinstein raped her, was seen for many months as a figurehead in the movement against sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood. But she is now facing a #MeToo allegation of her own, after her former co-star Jimmy Bennett accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013. Bennett was 17 at the time of the alleged assault in a hotel room in California, where the age of consent is 18.

The New York Times reported in August that Argento settled with Bennett, now 22, for $380,000 (£289,200) last October. He had told her that he intended to sue her for damages as a result of the trauma caused by the alleged assault.

Police in Los Angeles are now investigating Bennett’s claim, after it emerged that he had not filed a police report about the alleged incident in 2013.

Argento has denied the allegations against her, and initially said she had “never had any sexual relationship with Bennett”. She claimed her late partner Anthony Bourdain wanted to pay Bennett the money to help him with “severe economic problems”, and to avoid any “possible negative publicity”.

Rain Dove and Rose McGowan in London on 17 September 

However, texts messages from Argento were later leaked online that appeared to contradict her original statement. In the texts, Argento said she “had sex with [Bennett and] it felt weird”, but that she didn’t know he was a minor until she received a “shakedown letter” demanding money.

On 27 August, McGowan released a lengthy statement to The New York Times in which she said that her partner, the model and activist Rain Dove, had been the recipient of these texts and had taken them to police. Dove has since said that McGowan’s statement was factually correct.

In that statement, McGowan – who has also accused Weinstein of raping her – expressed sadness that she could no longer be friends with Argento, but said she felt “more sad” about the alleged assault of Bennett.

McGowan has not yet responded publicly to Argento’s demand that she retract her statement.

Images: Getty Images 

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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