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Oscar-winning Director Paul Haggis Arrested in Italy Over Sexual Assault Charges: Report

Filmmaker Paul Haggis has been arrested in Italy on alleged sexual assault charges. (Image: Shutterstock)

Filmmaker Paul Haggis has been arrested in Italy on alleged sexual assault charges. (Image: Shutterstock)

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis has been arrested in Italy on alleged charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury.

Oscar-winning film director Paul Haggis was arrested on Sunday for investigation of allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in southern Italy, according to multiple reports in the Italian media and a statement by the public prosecutors of the nearby city of Brindisi. The 69-year-old filmmaker has been in Italy for a film festival.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, a young woman, identified only as being “foreign,” that is not Italian, has pressed charges against Haggis, accusing the filmmaker of forcing her to engage in sexual intercourse over the course of two days in Ostuni. Haggis was scheduled to hold a series of master classes at the Allora Fest, in Ostuni. Allora Fest is a new film festival launched by L.A.-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton that is set to run from June 21-26.

According to an Italian police report, the woman was taken to the Papola Casale airport in Brindisi on Sunday morning and left there despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions.”She was then aided by airport staff and police officers and taken to the hospital. She subsequently filed formal charges.

Paul’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said that although he could not discuss the evidence under Italian law, “I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis. He is totally innocent, and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly.”

The Brindisi prosecutors’ office was closed on Sunday. The prosecutors said airport staff and police noticed her “obvious confused state” and ” after lending initial treatment, took her to Brindisi’s police headquarters, where officers accompanied her to a local hospital for examination.” Police at headquarters’ operations room said they weren’t authorised to give out information about the case, including whether Paul was being held at the police station or at a hotel or other lodging.

Prosecutors also were quoted as saying that the woman “formalised her complaint and cited circumstances which were subsequently looked into for confirmation by investigators.” They didn’t cite her nationality or age.

Paul is a director, producer and screenwriter. He won an Oscar in 2006 for best original screenplay for Crash.

In 2018, the publicist Haleigh Breest sued Haggis, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay to Million Dollar Baby and wrote and directed Oscar best picture winner Crash, alleging he had violently raped her in her New York apartment after a premiere in 2013. In the wake of her allegations, three more women came forward with separate sexual misconduct allegations against Haggis. Haggis has denied all the claims.

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first published:June 20, 2022, 10:12 IST