Oscar-winning Canadian screenwriter and director Paul Haggis has been arrested in Ostuni, Southern Italy on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury allegedly inflicted upon a still unidentified woman who has pressed charges.
According to multiple Italian press reports and a note from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi, Haggis is charged with forcing a young “foreign” – meaning non-Italian – woman to undergo sexual intercourse over the course of two days in Ostuni, while he was scheduled to hold several master classes at the Allora Fest, a new film event being launched by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton that is set to run in Ostuni from June 21 to June 26.
Bizio has confirmed to Variety that Haggis is under arrest. She said the festival is “completely taking its distance” from him and will be soon issuing a statement to that effect.
Variety has reached out to reps for Haggis for comment.
According to an Italian police report, the alleged victim, after being assaulted, was taken by Haggis to the Papola Casale airport in Brindisi and left there on Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions.”
At the airport, the alleged rape victim was assisted by the airport staff and border police who, after having given her first aid, accompanied her to the offices of the Italian squadra mobile police unit. Police agents then took the woman to the Perrino hospital in Brindisi, where Italy’s so-called “pink protocol” for rape victims was put into effect.
Subsequently, the alleged victim filed formal charges against Haggis.
Haggis, who wrote “Million Dollar Baby” and co-wrote and directed “Crash,” both of which he won an Oscar for, was sued in 2018 by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleged that he had violently raped her after a premiere in 2013. The suit prompted three additional women to come forward with their own sexual misconduct accusations against Haggis, who has vehemently denied the claims. The trial is still pending, due to COVID delays.