Director Paul Haggis arrested for sexual assault
Brindisi, Italy – The Italian authorities have detained and ordered the house arrest of Oscar-winning film director Paul Haggis following allegations of sexual abuse.
Media reports noted the incident on Monday, based on information from the prosecutors’ office in Brindisi.
Haggis, a 69-year-old Canadian citizen, is alleged to have assaulted a woman over a period of days in a hotel room in Ostuni near the south-eastern city of Brindisi in Italy. He was detained on Sunday.
The Hollywood director and screenwriter, who was awarded two Oscars in 2006 for Crash, rejects the allegations. He also wrote and produced Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby (2004), and co-wrote James Bond films Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008).
Haggis’ lawyer Priya Chaudhry said in an email to NPR: "Under Italian law, I cannot discuss the evidence. That said, 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."
Paul Higgins allegedly left the victim at the airport
A British woman, who was previously known to Haggis, has alleged that she was sexually assaulted in the hotel room between Sunday, June 12 and Wednesday last week.
Haggis then apparently drove her to Brindisi airport in the early hours of Sunday, and abandoned her there. The woman went to the police and was then taken to hospital to be examined.
The director is in the region as guest of a film festival starting on Monday. Italian news agency ANSA reported that the organizers have excluded Haggis from all festival events with immediate effect.
Cover photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP