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#MeToo leader Rose McGowan's bombshell statement on Asia Argento details years of lurid behavior

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

Actress Rose McGowan — who was instrumental in helping to kick off 2017's #MeToo movement with her own allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein — issued a blistering statement against fellow #MeToo leader Asia Argento.

Argento, who also made rape claims against Weinstein, stands accused of sexually assaulting a child actor when she was 37 years old and he was just 17. The age of consent in California is 18 years old.

What's the background?

Argento reportedly sexually assaulted a 17-year-old Jimmy Bennett in 2013 and paid him off monetarily for his troubles.

Bennett alleged that Argento invited him to a hotel room, where she gave him alcohol. Afterward, Argento reportedly performed oral sex on Bennett, and then had sexual intercourse with him.

New York Times report revealed that Argento reportedly settled with Bennett for about $380,000. TMZ later reported that Argento paid Bennett the sum for a damning post-coital photo.

Journalist Yashar Ali shared a statement from Argento denying the disturbing allegations.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. has reportedly opened an investigation into the alleged incident.

Bennett told the New York Times that he remained silent out of fear and shame, but once Argento outed herself as an alleged Weinstein victim, he was moved to speak.

A thread of text messages were later leaked to TMZ, which indicated that Argento did have intercourse with Bennett.

What did McGowan say?

In a lengthy statement, McGowan revealed that she'd received more information on the background of Bennett's allegations against Argento, and said that the story was even more disturbing than initially reported.

McGowan wrote that Argento reportedly told McGowan's partner, Rain Dove, in a text message that Bennett had been sending nude photographs of himself since he was 12 years old.

Argento also reportedly told Dove that she did, in fact, have sex with Bennett when he was just 17 years old. According to McGowan, Argento did not tell Bennett to stop, block him, or report the incidents to authorities.

A copy of those text messages were later reported to be the ones seen on TMZ.

In her statement, McGowan disavowed Argento implicitly, distancing herself from the situation entirely and adamantly noting that she had no previous knowledge about the alleged incident.

McGowan wrote how she and Argento bonded over their alleged mutual experiences with Weinstein, and remained unified throughout the year.

"[T]hen everything changed. In an instant," McGowan wrote. "I received a phone call and series of messages from the being I’ve been dating — Rain Dove. They said that they had been texting with Asia and that Asia had revealed that she had indeed slept with Jimmy [Bennett]."

"Rain also shared that Asia had stated that she’d been receiving unsolicited nudes of Jimmy since he had been 12," McGowan continued. "Asia mentioned in these texts that she didn’t take any action on those images. No reporting to authorities, to the parents, or blocking of Jimmy’s social media. Not even a simple message 'Don’t send me these images. They are inappropriate.'"

Is there more to the story?

McGowan added that there are more details to the alleged conversation, but she is unable to reveal those details due to an purportedly active investigation, and said that Dove was headed to law enforcement with the texts in hand as a result of the alleged discovery.

Dove reportedly told McGowan that the texts had been turned over to law enforcement, and 48 hours later, the messages were in the hands of the press.

"What was hard," McGowan wrote, "was the shell shock of the [realization] that everything the #MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy."

McGowan later added that she's sad to "lose a friend connection," but is even sadder for Bennett.

"Whether or not the extortion case is true — it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right," McGowan wrote. "It is the type of thing I fight against alongside so many. The reason I haven’t released a statement is because I’ve frankly been extremely humbled by this event. I had to take a step back and [realize] that in my own activism while I fight hard with passion — I need to evolve."

She continued, "There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE."

"We can not let this moment break the momentum of a movement that has freed so many people," McGowan added. "We must use it to allow us to become stronger. More compassionate. More aware. And [more organized]."

In conclusion, McGowan implored Argento to stand up and "[b]e the person you wish [Weinstein] could have been."

You can read the full text of the lengthy statement below.

One last thing…
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