The two actors used to be confidantes and allies in the #MeToo movement — both have spoken out, accusing disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein of rape and sexual assault, charges he denies — but have had a falling out over the alleged sexual abuse of Argento’s co-star, Jimmy Bennett.
Bennett claimed that Argento sexually assaulted him in a hotel room in 2013 when he was only 17 (below the age of consent in California) and she was 37. A New York Times report cited documents sent to the publication anonymously and verified them with three people familiar with the case. In the documents, Bennett said that Argento gave him alcohol, kissed him and performed oral sex on him before the pair had sexual intercourse. (In 2004, Bennett played Argento’s young son in her movie, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.)
With the supposed urging of her then-boyfriend Anthony Bourdain, Argento settled with Bennett to the tune of US$380,000 in the fall of 2017, though she continued to deny that anything sexual took place between them.
In early September, Argento changed her story, saying that Bennett “sexually attacked” her in the hotel room, not the other way around.
On Aug. 27, McGowan sent a lengthy email statement to media, outlining that her friendship with Argento was over and telling her former pal to own up to what she did.
McGowan, 44, said that there “absolutely should be no leeway or tolerance for sexual assault.” She called on Argento to “be the person you wish Harvey could have been” — referring, of course, to Weinstein and his continuous denial of any sex assault or harassment accusations brought against him.
McGowan urged people not to let the Argento allegations sour the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, which both seek to support victims and end sexual assault and discrimination.
McGowan spoke of Argento in the past tense, indicating that the pair are no longer friends. She also claimed that she was not “affiliated with this incident or being complicit.”
“Asia you were my friend,” the letter read. “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. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.”
McGowan also went into detail about her current partner, Rain Dove, who told her that Argento said she had slept with Bennett when he was underage and she had been receiving nude photos of him since he was 12 years old.
Early Monday morning, Argento tweeted to McGowan, giving her 24 hours to retract her Aug. 27 statements or else face a lawsuit.
“Dear @RoseMcGowan,” Argento tweeted. “It is with genuine regret that I am giving you 24 hours to retract and apologise for the horrendous lies made against me in your statement of August 27th. If you fail to address this libel I will have no option other than to take immediate legal action.”
As of this writing, McGowan has not publicly replied to Argento’s threat of legal action.