#MeToo leader accused
Orange County, Calif.
Actress Asia Argento this week denied sexually assaulting a minor, despite revelations that she paid the accuser a $380,000 settlement. Argento became a leader of the #MeToo movement after accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, but documents obtained by The New York Times describe her having sex with then-17-year-old Jimmy Bennett in 2013. Bennett played Argento’s son in the 2004 movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, a film Argento also directed. Argento later called him “my son, my love,” on Instagram, and Bennett would playfully call her “Momma.” She was 37 at the time of the alleged assault. Argento said Bennett “made an exorbitant request of money” after the Weinstein news broke, and her partner—the late TV personality Anthony Bourdain—urged her to settle. TMZ.com published a photo of a topless Bennett and Argento, along with text messages in which Argento tells a friend, “I had sex with him it felt weird.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) was indicted this week for misusing at least $250,000 in campaign funds. Also charged was Hunter’s wife, Margaret, who served as his campaign manager. The cash-strapped Hunters are accused of swiping the campaign credit card almost 200 times for personal expenses that included $11,300 at Costco, $1,900 to send a family member to a Pittsburgh Steelers football game, and $600 to fly a pet rabbit across the country. When Hunter tried to legitimize a $14,000 family vacation to Italy by touring a naval base, the Navy couldn’t oblige him, to which Hunter allegedly replied, “Tell the Navy to go f--- themselves.” House Speaker Paul Ryan stripped Hunter, who’s served in Congress since 2009, of his committee assignments. Hunter, 41, denied any wrongdoing, saying the charges against him are politically motivated.
Poweshiek County, Iowa
The remains of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student who went missing July 18, were found in a cornfield this week after an extensive search. A 24-year-old undocumented immigrant was charged with first-degree murder. The man, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was caught on a security video driving a Chevy Malibu back and forth on the streets where Tibbetts, 20, had gone for an evening jog in her hometown. He told authorities that he parked his car and started running beside her. When she threatened to call the police, Rivera says, he panicked and blacked out, later finding Tibbetts bloodied in his trunk. After being apprehended, he led authorities to the body. The murder charge instantly stoked the immigration debate, with President Trump referencing the “illegal alien” at a rally in West Virginia. “Should’ve never happened illegally in our country,” he said.
Military parade axed
President Trump canceled a planned military parade last week after its price tag ballooned to $92 million, accusing local officials of jacking up the cost. The parade, which had been planned for November and would have celebrated 100 years since the end of World War I, drew widespread disapproval, including from Pentagon officials. Trump had called for the parade “to top” the Bastille Day show he’d seen in France. After news outlets reported that Trump’s parade, originally expected to run a tab of $12 million, would cost dramatically more, Trump tweeted, “Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN.” As for that cost, he added, “The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it.” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser immediately pushed back, saying the city had asked for $21.6 million, and the bulk of the cost would have gone to security.
New York City
The last Nazi war crimes suspect known to be in the United States was deported to his native Germany this week. Jakiw Palij, a guard at the Trawniki concentration camp in Poland, was first ordered deported in 2004. But no country was willing to take Palij, a native of a region that was part of Poland before World War II and is now part of Ukraine. Germany agreed to accept him after the White House made his removal a high priority. The frail 95-year-old was taken from his home on a stretcher and flown to Germany, where he was placed in a nursing home and is likely to live at state expense. There is no arrest warrant for Palij in Germany, and he will probably not face a trial. The Trump administration has held up Palij’s deportation as an example of its efforts to remove immigrants who should not have been admitted to the U.S.
Confederate statue falls
Chapel Hill, N.C.
A Confederate casualty
Protesters toppled a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina this week, calling the towering sculpture of “Silent Sam” a monument to white supremacy. Silent Sam, a bronze Confederate soldier carrying a rifle, was erected in 1913 to honor students and alumni who served and died in the Confederate army. More than 200 demonstrators gathered the evening before fall classes began, listening to speeches before using ropes to pull down the monument. The statue had been a subject of controversy on campus for 50 years, and calls for its removal intensified after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. The university spent $390,000 on security for it last year. The dismantling drew a rebuke from state officials and university chancellor Carol Folt, who conceded that the statue has been “divisive” but called its toppling “unlawful and dangerous.” ■