Los Angeles Times
Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis has been arrested in Italy on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury.
According to Variety and Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Serra, the filmmaker stands accused of sexually assaulting a young, non-Italian woman who has pressed charges. Representatives for Haggis did not immediately respond Sunday to the Los Angeles Times’ request for comment.
Haggis — best known for co-writing and directing the 2006 best-picture winner “Crash” — was arrested Sunday in the southern Italian city of Ostuni, where he is accused of sexually assaulting the woman over the course of two days while in town for an entertainment industry event, reported Variety, which cited Italian press coverage and a note from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi.
The event, Allora Fest, was recently launched by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton and is scheduled to last from Tuesday to next Sunday. Haggis was slated to teach several master classes during the week.
Bizio told Variety that Allora Fest was “completely taking its distance” from Haggis in the wake of the arrest and vowed to release an official statement soon on the matter.
According to an Italian police report obtained by Variety, Haggis brought the alleged victim to the Papola Casale airport in Brindisi and left her there early Sunday. The report noted that the woman was in a “precarious physical and psychological” state at the airport, where she was assisted by staff and border police who administered first aid.
After receiving emergency care, Haggis’ accuser was taken to the Italian squadra mobile police unit and Perrino hospital in Brindisi, where she was treated as a victim of rape.
Haggis was previously sued by publicist Haleigh Breest, who accused the “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter of sexually assaulting her in his New York apartment in 2013. Three additional women later accused Haggis of sexual misconduct, but Haggis has denied the allegations.
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