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Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis accused of sexual assault; detained in Italy

69-year-old Haggis is said to have had "non-consensual" sexual relations with a young foreign woman over two days

  • Swaroop Kodur

Last Updated: 10.02 AM, Jun 20, 2022

Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis accused of sexual assault; detained in Italy
Paul Haggis

Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Haggis has been detained in Italy over allegations of sexual assault. The 69-year-old Canadian filmmaker was in the southern Italian town of Ostuni for the upcoming Allora Fest where he was meant to conduct a series of master classes. He was arrested in Ostuni on June 19 on charges of "sexual assault and aggravated personal injury", according to a press statement made by the public prosecutors of Brindisi, a nearby city. 

The charges were pressed by a woman who has been currently identified as "young" and "foreign" who, allegedly, was forced to have non-consensual sexual relations with Haggis over two days. Reports reveal that she was dropped off at the Papola Casale Airport in Brindisi by Paul Haggis who left the place soon after despite her precarious physical and psychological conditions. The young woman was later assisted with first aid by the airport staff and police who found her in a "confused state" and later escorted her to the Perrino Hospital in Brindisi where her complaint against Haggis was formalized, following the activation of the pink protocol for victims of violence. 

Other reports state that Paul Haggis has denied all allegations through his lawyer Michele Laforgia. Haggis' other attorney Priya Chaudhary stated that she would unwilling to discuss the evidence present against her client under Italian law. Her statement, however, included that she is confident about all allegations being dismissed as she believed in Haggis' innocence.

Interestingly, the Crash writer-director was sued by publicist Haleigh Breest on charges of violent rape in her New York apartment in 2013. Following these allegations, three more women came forward with their sexual misconduct cases against Paul Haggis who has denied all the claims since then. He had been involved with the church of Scientology for a period of 35 years and left the organization in 2009.

Paul Haggis' career began on television in 1987 before he wrote and produced the film Million Dollar Baby, his first major break which fetched him an Academy Award nomination. He would go on to write, direct, and produce the critically acclaimed 2005 film Crash, and won the Oscar in two different categories of Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. His other major credits include screenwriting for the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.