Rose McGowan, a leading voice in the #MeToo movement, has penned an open letter to Asia Argento, a beleaguered mouthpiece for the movement, following accusations that Argento paid off someone who’d accused her of sexual assault. Both women became some of the most prominent voices in the #MeToo movement in the last year, after they each accused movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
In her open letter, McGowan wrote that her friendship with Argento is over following accusations from child actor Jimmy Bennett, who claimed that the actress assaulted him when he was 17. Argento then allegedly paid him $380,000 in hush money in the months after she came forward as a Weinstein accuser.
“Asia, you were my friend,” McGowan wrote. “I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the #MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be better – I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.”
McGowan wrote that a person she’d been dating, Rain Dove — who uses the pronouns they and them — had confirmed to McGowan that Asia told them she had sex with Bennett. Dove told McGowan that Argento told them Bennett had been sending the Italian actress unsolicited nudes since he was 12 but that she did not report him, tell his parents or block him. McGowan said there was more to the story, too, but that she didn’t want to reveal any other details while investigators were looking into the impropriety. Rain Dove, who met Argento through McGowan in the days after the death of Argento’s boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, turned the texts over to authorities and the texts made it to the press.
“I’ve referred to Asia in the past as ‘My Ride or Die’ and said very clearly that [Dove’s] friendship comes first,” McGowan wrote. “I know that coming to me with those messages must have been hard for Rain because of that so I commend them for their bravery.”
McGowan wrote that Argento had previously referred to an extortion attempt and that McGowan believes Argento was referring to Bennett. “Whether or not the extortion case is true — it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right,” she wrote. “It is the type of thing I fight against alongside so many.” She closed her note by calling for unity within the resistance movement.
A few days after Bourdain’s suicide, McGowan wrote an open letter defending Argento against people wanting to blame her for his death. “As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children’s table,” she wrote. “I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on. Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who’ve been left behind to journey on without him.”
Read Rose McGowan’s full, unedited statement severing ties with Asia Argento:
I would first of all like to start off this statement saying thank you for your patience. A lot of people have been demanding answers and a response to the recent events surrounding Asia Argento’s sexual assault case. 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.
I first met Asia on a red carpet, but it’s only been the past year through our shared experience of the HW case that we have bonded. Asia was a person who understood my trauma in a way that many others didn’t. We were able to talk through them together and champion each other’s voices. We even got matching dot tattoos! Something I had posted on my IG just about a month ago. It’s no secret to anyone that Im [sic] a blunt, candid, brazen individual vocally- and I think that’s what I really related to Asia the most with. They were edgy, confrontational, and strong willed with very little care about how much other’s liked or disliked them. Rare things to find in women in this industry or the world.
But then everything changed. In an instant. 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 Bennet [sic]. Rain also shared that Asia had stated that she’d been receiving unsolicited nudes of Jimmy since he had been 12. 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.” There were a few other details revealed as well that I am not at liberty to mention in this statement as investigators do their job.
Rain Dove said that they were going to go to the police with these texts once we were done speaking no matter what. But that they wanted me to be aware of them so that I may be able to take further actions. I responded with “You have to. You must.” I wasted no time. It wasn’t hard to say or support. What was hard was the shell shock of the realisation [sic] that everything the MeToo movement stood for was about to be in jeopardy. An hour after our conversation was finished Rain Dove confirmed that they had turned over the texts and were in conversation with officers. Almost 48 hours later the texts were in the press.
I had introduced Rain Dove to Asia Argento last month, three days after the passing of Anthony Bourdain. I was with Asia to comfort and support her. Rain Dove came to support us both. It was an emotionally chaotic time and Rain Dove suggested we go to Berlin for a couple days to take the mourning out of Asia’s home and into a neutral space. So we did. While in Berlin Asia had mentioned that she was being extorted for a large sum of money every month by someone who was blackmailing them with a provocative image. No one in the room knew who the extortionist was. Now we know it to be a reference to this case.
Rain Dove continued on communicating with Asia occasionally after meeting her- and their conversations have been their own. I know Rain is a person to whom many high profile entities consult when they are experiencing social pressures because Rain is good at guiding them through the research confrontation, rehabilitation, and solution process. While they are a person who is good at keeping a secret for those dedicated to making things right- they are also justice driven. So it was not a surprise to me that I received that call and the messages from them. I’ve referred to Asia in the past as “My Ride or Die” and said very clearly that their friendship comes first. I know that coming to me with those messages must have been hard for Rain because of that so I commend them for their bravery.
To the people who have checked in with me to see if I’m alright- the answer is thank you and Yes. I’ll be fine. Its [sic] sad to lose a friend connection, but whats [sic] even more sad is what happened to Jimmy Bennet [sic]. Whether or not the extortion case is true- it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. 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 realise that in my own activism while I fight hard with passion- I need to evolve. In the past I have been occasionally angry. As a victim I was justified in fiery feelings. But I know that those accused are the friends, parents, and family members of other people. There absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault. Hard stop. NONE. 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. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. This week especially has made me come to terms with the fact that we all have a lot of growing to do, including myself.
At this current moment it may be easy to focus on the drama of the situation. The conspiracy. But the real focus should be on supporting justice. Supporting honesty. And supporting each other. We can not let this moment break the momentum of a movement that has freed so many people. We must use it to allow us to become stronger. More compassionate. More aware. And More organised [sic].
Asia you were my friend. I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be [sic] better- I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.