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Asia Argento, #MeToo activist, settled sex assault claim against her, report says

A prominent #MeToo activist and Harvey Weinstein accuser recently agreed to pay $380,000 to settle a sexual assault complaint against her, according to a new report.

>> Before Alyssa Milano, #MeToo began with activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago

The New York Times reported Sunday that actress Asia Argento, who said last year that Weinstein raped her in 1997, settled a claim by former child star Jimmy Bennett, now 22.

In a notice of intent to sue that Bennett filed shortly after Argento, 42, went public with her Weinstein allegations in October, Bennett claimed Argento sexually assaulted him in 2013, when he was 17, the Times reported. The alleged incident occurred in a hotel room in California, where the age of consent is 18.

>> Who is Anthony Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento?

Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement released Monday to CNN that the reported settlement shows "a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento."

"What is perhaps most egregious is the timing,” Brafman said. According to the Times, Bennett’s notice of intent to sue was sent to Argento in November, one month after she went public with her allegations against Weinstein.

"An unidentified party" sent the Times documents related to the case, including a selfie of Bennett and Argento in bed, the newspaper reported, adding that "three people familiar with the case" had confirmed the documents' authenticity.

The complaint said Bennett was traumatized by the incident, which "hindered [his] work and income and threatened his mental health," the Times reported. Bennett, who starred in a 2004 movie with Argento and played her character's son, had viewed their bond as a "mother-son relationship," the complaint said.

>> Read more trending news 

The Times also reported that celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who met Argento in 2016 and began dating her, helped her "navigate the matter." Bourdain committed suicide in June.

Bennett declined to comment on the Times' piece, and Argento did not return requests for comment, the newspaper reported.

Shanann Watts ‘beat all the odds’ to have her children, brother says

Shanann Watts’ Facebook profile is one filled with love; love for her family and love for her job.

>> UPDATE:  Father charged with murder

The pregnant Colorado mother of two was found buried in a shallow grave Thursday, not far from where the bodies of her daughters, Bella, 4, and 3-year-old Celeste, were found hidden inside oil tanks on the property of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the oil and gas exploration company for which their father worked, Weld County court records show. 

The court records, obtained by 9News in Denver, also indicated that the victims may have been strangled. Their autopsy results had not been released as of Monday morning. 

>> Related story: Shanann Watts, 2 daughters likely strangled, records show

Christopher Lee Watts, 33, of Frederick, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence in the slayings, which investigators believe took place Monday. That was the day that a friend of Shanann Watts’ reported the mother and daughters missing after she went to the family’s home and found no sign of them.

Investigators said the victim’s vehicle and purse were at the house, as were medications for the girls.  

In her social media posts, Shanann Watts appeared thrilled to be carrying her third child. In a video she posted June 11, she wore a T-shirt that read, “Oops, we did it again,” her way of telling Chris Watts he was again going to be a father. 

In the recording, Chris Watts walks into the room and stops, reading the shirt. He laughs.

“I like that shirt,” he says. “Really?”

“Really,” his wife responds. 

“That’s awesome,” he says. After kissing Shanann Watts, he says, “Guess when you want to, it happens.”

Shanann Watts also recorded the moment she told her daughters that “Mommy has a baby in her belly.” Both girls cheer and jump up and down with excitement. 

Shanann Watts juggled motherhood with her work as a salesperson for Le-Vel, a health and wellness company that sells nutritional products. Though she and her husband filed for bankruptcy protection a few years ago, her work and his job with Anadarko appeared to rejuvenate the couple’s finances. 

Her Facebook feed was dedicated to her family and her work, which allowed for much travel. 

“We have qualified for so many amazing trips in two years that we never otherwise would have been able to visit,” she wrote in one post

Shanann Watts’ brother, Frankie Rzucek, wrote on Facebook Friday that his sister, who he looked up to, was the “hardest working person (he’s) ever known.” In an extensive post describing his only sibling, he revealed that she had lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes a person’s body to attack its own organs. 

According to WebMD, it also means that any pregnancy is considered high-risk. 

“Lupus can complicate pregnancy with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and preeclampsia, as well as heart problems in the baby,” according to the medical website.

“When our family found out she beat all the odds and became pregnant, I can't even explain our excitement,” Rzucek wrote. “Shanann was born to be a mother and help change lives.”

He called her a “picture-perfect” mother.

“I was blown away when I moved out there and lived with her for a few months after her first-born daughter, Bella (My Bella Bean),” Rzucek wrote. “I was exhausted by just watching my sister. She made being a parent look easy.”

Shanann Watts publicly shared many photos of her girls, along with videos. Bella was often the star of the videos, including one in which she sang a song calling her father a hero. 

“My Daddy is a hero, he helps me grow up strong,” Bella sings, a shy smile on her face. “He reads me books, he ties my shoes. You’re a hero, through and through. My Daddy, Daddy, I love you.”

“I totally just cried!” Shanann Watts wrote in the caption of the video. 

In another video, the expectant mother asks Bella how many babies are in her belly. 

“Five!” Bella says, grinning.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” a male voice says from off camera. 

“That’s a lot of babies,” Shanann Watts says. 

Bella, who would kiss her mother’s pregnant stomach each night, giggles as Shanann Watts tells her that she needs to grow up quickly because she’ll need a lot of help with all those babies. 

In a June post showing a scrape on Celeste’s forehead, Shanann Watts calls the 3-year-old “one of the toughest kids (she knows).” She says that Celeste and her energy is the reason she started using Thrive, one of the products she sold for Le-Vel. 

“Lawd, this kid gives me mini heart attacks on the regular,” Shanann Watts wrote. 

In an interview with 9News in Denver the day before his arrest, Chris Watts also described the couple’s children. 

“Celeste, she’s just a bottle of energy,” he said. “I call her ‘Rampage’ because she's got two speeds: go, or she’s sleeping. She’s always the troublemaker, she’s always the one, like, jumping off things. Bella, she’s the more calm, cautious, mothering type, and she’s more like me -- she’s more calm. Celeste has definitely got her mom’s personality, where she’s all gung-ho, ready to go.”

See Chris Watts’ entire interview with 9News below.

In a Father’s Day post accompanied by a photo collage of the family, Shanann Watts praises her husband.

“Chris, we are so incredibly blessed to have you! You do so much every day for us and take such great care of us. You are the reason I was brave enough to agree to number 3! From laundry to kids’ showers! You are incredible, and we are so lucky to have you in our life! Happy Father’s Day!”

Rzucek wrote that he let his anger toward Chris Watts get the better of him in a previous post, in which he called his brother-in-law a “heartless psychopath” and said he wanted just 30 seconds alone with him. 

He said he would never delete or regret his comments, however. 

“He stole my whole world and treated them like they were trash,” Rzucek wrote. “I’ve never been so mad, sad, enraged, hurt, heartbroken, lost and shocked in all my life. So forgive me for how I went about it. My sister and nieces meant the absolute world to me. They made me strive to be an even better man. I wanted them to be proud of their uncle.”

Rzucek wrote that he could go on for days with memories of his beloved sister, who recently visited family in North Carolina with Bella and Celeste, but instead said he was proud and honored to receive the love and well-wishes of those who will miss Shanann Watts. 

He also asked people to pray for Chris Watts’ family, who is also mourning.

“I'm trying really hard not to hate him because that's not how we were raised, but I just can't find it in my heart. I really don’t know what to say,” Rzucek wrote. “I just thank God that I got to spend the last six weeks loving, laughing,and enjoying what precious time I had with my sister and nieces that I loved with every inch of my soul. 

“I wish I could go back in time and be there to keep you safe from harm. Sorry Uncle couldn't save you.”

Texas shooting: 2 dead, including suspect, after employee opens fire at food warehouse, police say

A woman opened fire on her co-workers during an overnight shift at a food warehouse in Texas early Monday, killing one person and injuring another.

>> Read more trending news 

Authorities said the suspect also died after getting into a shootout with a responding officer, but it was not immediately clear if she was killed by a police bullet or a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Update 2:05 p.m. EDT Aug. 20: Authorities have identified the person killed Monday morning in a workplace shooting at the Ben E. Keith Foods facility in Missouri City as overnight manager Francisco Reyes, KPRC-TV reported.

The suspected shooter was identified as Kristine Peralez, according to the news station. A third person suffered a gunshot wound to his leg.

Authorities are investigating social media posts Peralez made before Monday’s shooting, Missouri City Police Chief Mike Berezin said Monday at a news conference. The Dallas Morning News reported they were also looking into comments she made to colleagues before the attack.

“I think (she) actually may have spelled that out for us,” Missouri City police Capt. Paul Poulton told the Morning News.

Update 9:20 a.m. EDT Aug. 20: Authorities told KTRK the woman suspected of opening fire at the Ben E. Keith Foods facility in Missouri City was an employee who starting shooting just before 2:30 a.m. Monday in the facility’s warehouse. At the time, between 20 and 25 people were working in the warehouse, Missouri City Police Chief Mike Berezin said Monday at a news conference.

Berezin said the shooting took place during an overnight shift. Two employees were shot, one fatally, according to KTRK. The surviving victim suffered a gunshot wound to his leg, the news station reported.

Berezin declined to identify the victims or suspect in the case or confirm reports from KTRK and KHOU that the slain victim was an overnight manager at the facility.

An officer confronted the shooter outside the warehouse Monday morning and fired at least one shot at the woman, but it was not immediately clear if the bullet hit her. 

“Whether or not the shooter was actually hit by one of the officer's bullets or whether it was self-inflicted, we don't know at this point,” Berezin said. 

The officer was not injured.

“The officer is doing very well right now, considering the circumstances,” Berezin said.

Authorities continue to investigate.

Original report: According to KHOU, police said a woman fired shots before 3 a.m. CDT at the Ben E. Keith Foods facility in Missouri City, killing one person at the scene. Another person was injured and is being treated at a nearby hospital.

KHOU reported that the shooter “suffered a gunshot wound when she was confronted by police outside the facility,” authorities said. Officers didn’t know whether she was hurt while exchanging gunfire with police or if she shot herself. She was taken to the hospital, where she died, police said.

Read more here.

Shanann Watts, 2 daughters likely strangled, records show

A pregnant Colorado woman and her two young daughters may have been strangled, according to court documents filed by the defense team for the husband and father accused of killing his entire family

>> MORE: Father charged with murder

Christopher Lee Watts, 33, of Frederick, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence, for allegedly hiding the bodies of his wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and their daughters, Bella Watts, 4, and Celeste Watts, 3. The mother and daughters were reported missing Monday when a friend of Shanann Watts could not reach her. 

>> Read more trending news

9News in Denver reported Friday that motions filed by defense attorney James Merson offered a glimpse into some of the details of the slayings. In one motion filed in Weld County, Merson indicated he’d spoken to a DNA expert, Richard Eikelenboom.

Eikelenboom told Merson in the filing that “even though the bodies of two of the decedents have been in an oil well filled with crude oil for several days, DNA would still be present,” the news station reported

Bella and Celeste Watts’ bodies were found hidden inside oil or gas tanks on the property of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which employed Chris Watts until his arrest. The company said in a statement last week that he was fired Wednesday. 

>> Related story: Bodies of 2 missing Colorado girls recovered as father appears in court

Eikelenboom wrote in an email to Merson that it was his “expert opinion that DNA evidence would remain on the necks of the decedent children, in spite of the fact that the remains were in oil for four days,” the court records said. “In my opinion, the presence of oil will not destroy the DNA.”

The Coloradoan reported that Merson’s motions focused on having the pathologist swab the children’s necks for DNA during their autopsies, which were scheduled for Friday. He also asked in the motion that DNA samples be taken from Shanann Watts hands and fingernails, along with the fingernails of the couple’s children, the newspaper reported. 

Merson also requested that Eikelenboom be present during the autopsies. 

The Coloradoan reported Sunday that a judge denied Merson’s requests for DNA swabs, saying he would not tell the medical examiner’s office how to do its job. The newspaper also reported that the autopsies were completed Friday, but the cause of the victims’ deaths have not been made public. 

Additional court documents obtained Saturday by 9News indicated that Shanann Watts, who was about 15-weeks pregnant when she died, was found buried in a shallow grave near the tanks where her daughters were dumped. Those details were unveiled in a court filing by Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke, who was responding to the motions filed by Merson. 

“The body of defendant’s wife was located earlier this morning after being recovered from a shallow grave near an oil tank,” prosecutors wrote in the motion filed late Thursday. “Later this afternoon, law enforcement recovered the bodies of defendant’s two daughters from inside oil tanks located near the grave of their mother. The Weld County coroner has informed the prosecution that time is of the essence in conducting the autopsies, especially for the children given the period of time their bodies were submerged in oil.”

>> Related story: Colorado man who pleaded for return of missing wife, daughters arrested in deaths

Shanann Watts and her daughters were reported missing last Monday, Aug. 13, when a friend of hers went to the Watts home and they were not there. That friend, Nickole Atkinson, told ABC News that she dropped Shanann off at the Watts home around 2 a.m. that morning, following a business trip. 

She was supposed to pick her friend up again later that day, but when she arrived at the house around noon, Shanann and the girls were gone. Police later determined that Shanann Watts’ vehicle and purse were at the house, as were medications for the children. 

Atkinson told ABC News that she “didn’t want to think the worst,” but felt that something was amiss because Chris Watts seemed unconcerned that his pregnant wife and young daughters were missing.

“He was just sitting there waiting for something to happen; it just didn’t seem right to me,” Atkinson told the news agency

Chris Watts gave an interview to 9News the day before his arrest. See his entire interview below.

Atkinson said she was not shocked when Chris Watts was arrested, but said she did not know of any trouble in the marriage until the day her friend disappeared. She told ABC News that Chris Watts suggested that day that his wife had left him. 

“When I called him and asked him where she was, that’s when he told me and I basically told him that that wasn’t my (concern) at that particular moment, because it wasn’t, and that their business was their business, that they would either work it out or they wouldn’t,” Atkinson said

Chris Watts spoke out the day before his arrest in an interview with 9News, in which he described the situation as “a nightmare that (he) just (couldn’t) wake up from.” 

The young father also addressed those who might think he had a hand in his family’s disappearance.

“Everybody’s going to have their own opinion on anything like this,” Watts said. “I just want people to know that I want my family back. I want them safe and I want them here. This house is not the same.”

Less than 24 hours later, Watts was in custody. A law enforcement source told 9News that Watts confessed to killing his wife and children. 

No suspected motive has been made public by investigators. 

Man charged in theft of $192,800 from Alabama casino

A federal judge on Friday denied bond for one man and dismissed charges against another man accused of robbing $192,800 from an Alabama casino last week, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Timothy Dean Pettiway and Jory D’Michael Travunn Dumas were arrested Tuesday after they were accused of stealing the money from two machines that were accessed when a employee at the Wind Creek Casino Montgomery left keys atop a kiosk Aug. 10. 

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gray Borden dismissed charges against Dumas, as security footage from multiple cameras presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office showed that it was Pettiway -- and not Dumas, who is Pettiway’s nephew -- who had taken the keys, the Advertiser reported.

FBI Special Agent Matthew Minshew testified Friday that a casino employee checked out keys to kiosks 8 and 19. After speaking with another employee the woman walked away and left her keys on top of the machine, according to court testimony. 

A man who Minshew identified as Pettiway then retrieved the keys and took one cash box that contained $100 bills into a restroom, the Advertiser reported. He then walked to the other kiosk and did the same thing, the newspaper reported.

The employee who lost her keys reported them missing. After watching security cameras, authorities entered the restroom to find empty cash boxes in a handicapped stall. The boxes belonged to machines 8 and 19, the Advertiser reported

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians Nation, which owns the casino, declined to make a statement and referred questions to the FBI, the Advertiser reported.

2 North Carolina fugitives arrested in Florida

Two men wanted by North Carolina authorities were found hiding in a Florida home and were arrested after a weapons standoff with a SWAT team early Sunday, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The men were armed with an AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Donald “Alfred” Billings, 30, and Alton Otto Smoot, 26, were charged with attempted first-degree murder on law enforcement and felony conspiracy to commit first-degree murder on law enforcement, the Sheriff’s Office said. Billings also was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, and Smoot was charged with aggravated assault with a gun and fleeing law enforcement, deputies said.

"These guys are bad people, and they were engaged in activity where they were willing to shoot it out with a cop," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the Times.

On Aug. 11, North Carolina deputies tried to pull over a vehicle registered to Billings, the newspaper reported. Billings, and Smoot, who was a passenger, drove away and fired at the deputies with a handgun and an AR-15 rifle, according to Alleghany County deputies.

On Aug. 17, U.S. marshals told Pinellas County officials that the men were in Florida, WTVT reported. Pinellas County authorities learned that Billings’ ex-girlfriend Tiffany McCord, 34, lived in Treasure Island. After conducting surveillance near McCord’s apartment, they arrested Smoot on Saturday, the Times reported.

Detectives learned that Billings was inside McCord’s apartment and armed with a machete, a handgun, a .223 caliber AR-15 and a pipe bomb that he made using black power, metal and a detonator cord, BayNews9 reported. 

Billings, who served jail time in North Carolina on a drug conviction in 2003 and 2004, told witnesses he was not going back to prison and would shoot it out with police, the Times reported.

Deputies used tear gas and a fire broke out, the newspaper reported.

“As we were still attempting to enter the apartment, a fire broke out in the apartment. We don't know if he set the fire or what happened. The fire department was already on standby, they were able to extinguish the fire. SWAT team members entered, and found billings on the floor," Gualtieri said at a news conference.

Deputies found Billings severely burned with two AR-15 magazines on him, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Authorities took Billings to a hospital, the Times reported

Walmart shooting: Man killed in dispute over parking space, witnesses say

An argument over a parking space turned deadly Sunday evening outside a crowded Georgia Walmart, WSB-TV reported. 

>> Watch the news report here

A man was fatally shot about 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Walmart on Scenic Highway in Snellville, an Atlanta suburb. Police have one person in custody on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, the news station reported

>> Read more trending news 

Authorities have not identified the shooter or the victim.

According to WSB-TV, witnesses said the shooter and the 49-year-old victim argued about a parking space before the gunfire erupted. A single shot was fired, police said.

The scene was so chaotic, shoppers told the news station families became separated.

“People were missing their family members,” witness Robin Reynolds said. “Some kids were crying 'cause they didn't know where their dad was at.”

The shooting is still under investigation.

Pope Francis condemns sexual abuse in letter to Catholics

Pope Francis has written a letter to Catholics condemning sexual abuse by priests.

>> On WPXI.com: Report names 300 alleged ‘predator priests’

>> Read more trending news 

“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient,” said the letter, which the Vatican released Monday. “Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”

>> On WPXI.com: Report: Ring of 'predatory priests' shared, photographed victims

He added: “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

>> Read the full letter here

The letter came less than a week after a grand jury report identified more than 300 priests accused of abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. According to WPXI, a ring of predatory priests with the Pittsburgh Diocese allegedly shared information on victims and exchanged the victims among themselves, as well as made child pornography on Diocesan property.

>> On WPXI.com: Cardinal Wuerl moves monthly meeting with council of priests

In his letter, Pope Francis said Catholics must “acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable.”

He wrote: “Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”

Read more here.

3-year-old boy struck, killed by car while riding bike in parking lot

A Massachusetts boy has died after being struck by a car in Worcester, police say.

Worcester police said the incident happened around 2:45 p.m. Sunday on Laurel Street after reports that a child was hit by a car.

>> Read more trending news 

Officers said they found witnesses at the scene who said the 3-year-old boy had been taken to the hospital.

Police then went to the hospital, only to discover that the boy had died.

Police said the boy was riding a bike on the sidewalk on the street, then left the sidewalk and went into a parking lot on Laurel Street.

>> On Boston25News.com: Toddler dies after being pulled from pool in Massachusetts

A driver allegedly pulled out of a parking spot and hit the boy on his bicycle with the front of the car.

The driver of the car then took the boy and his father to the hospital, where the child was pronounced dead.

Police are still investigating the incident and said no charges or citations have been filed at this time.

Meth falls out of woman's shirt while she's being booked into jail, police say

A traffic stop Friday night led police to charge an Ohio woman with more than a traffic violation.

>> On Journal-News.com: Jewel thief steals thousands worth of gems, gold from Ohio home 

Maghen Reek, 30, of Middletown, is charged with drug abuse, conveyance of drugs into a detention facility, driving under suspension, falsification, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drug abuse instruments, failure to signal turn within 100 feet of an intersection, and holders through the Butler County, Montgomery County, Auglaize County, and Mercer County sheriff’s offices and the Franklin Police Department.

Police said when they saw Reek driving on Manchester Avenue, they recognized her because they ran her information earlier in the day because she had warrants for her arrest.

>> Read more trending news 

When she was pulled over, police said Reek made several “furtive movements” in her car.

Police said a digital scale was visible and there was white crystal residue on the surface area. When asked her name, Reek gave police a false name, according to a report.

Reek was placed in handcuffs, and police conducted a probable cause search and vehicle inventory before it was towed from the scene, the report said.

>> On Journal-News.com: Restaurant manager catches employee stealing from safe, police say 

Police found a syringe and magnetic box that was located on the outside of the car under the passenger side, according to the report.

While in the booking room of the city jail, police noticed that Reek was adjusting her shirt and while doing so, a folded plastic baggie containing about 2.2 grams of methamphetamine fell to the floor, according to the report.

Reek will have her preliminary hearing Aug. 20 in Middletown Municipal Court.

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