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Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis (Crash) was detained Sunday in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury, according to multiple reports in the Italian media and a statement by the public prosecutors of the nearby city of Brindisi.
A young woman, who has since been identified as a British citizen, has pressed charges against Haggis, accusing the two-time Oscar winner of forcing her to engage in sexual intercourse against her will over the course of three days in Ostuni, where Haggis was scheduled to hold a series of master classes at the Allora Fest — 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 June 21-26.
The woman was taken to the Papola Casale airport in Brindisi on Sunday morning and left there despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions,” according to an Italian police report. She was then aided by airport staff and police officers and taken to the hospital. She subsequently filed formal charges.
Prosecutors also were quoted as saying that the woman “formalized her complaint and cited circumstances which were subsequently looked into for confirmation by investigators.”
Haggis’ Italian lawyer, Michele Laforgia, has publicly declared to the Italian press that Haggis is “completely innocent” and confirmed his first court date is set for this Thursday. Laforgia declined further comment, saying prosecutors have not yet presented him with details of the charges. “We cannot declare anything else, nor enter into the merits of the accusations,” he is quoted as saying in a statement to multiple media outlets.
Haggis’ U.S. attorney Priya Chaudhry also maintained his innocence and told The Hollywood Reporter in part, “I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed.” She said that Haggis is “willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly.”
This is not the first time the Canadian director, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay to Million Dollar Baby and wrote and directed Oscar best picture winner Crash, has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In 2018, the publicist Haleigh Breest sued Haggis 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, who has denied all the claims.
2:32 p.m. Updated with a statement from Haggis’ U.S. attorney.
June 20, 8:13 a.m. Updated with a statement from Haggis’ Italian lawyer.
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