Paul Haggis Was Detained In Italy On Suspicion Of Sexual Assault

Multiple women previously accused the director and screenwriter of sexual misconduct, and one went on to sue him.

Paul in a suit and tie on the red carpet

Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis was detained in southern Italy on suspicion of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury, according to Italian media outlets.

Haggis was charged with forcing a woman to have sex with him over two days in Ostuni, Italian wire service ANSA reported. He reportedly dropped her off at the airport in Brindisi and left her there “despite her precarious physical and psychological conditions,” the local prosecutor's office said, per ANSA.

Airport staffers and border police provided first aid, then brought her to the hospital, and she formally spoke with investigators thereafter, La Presse reported.

Haggis's attorney Priya Chaudhry said she couldn't comment on the specifics of the case.

"I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis," she told BuzzFeed News. "He is totally innocent, and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly."

BuzzFeed News has reached out to the Italian prosecutor’s office for more information. Other representatives for Haggis, 69, whose film credits include 2004's Million Dollar Baby and 2005's Crash (for which he won Best Original Screenplay), did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He was scheduled to teach master classes at the Allora Fest, which is slated to take place from June 21 to June 26. Silvia Bizio, one of the event’s coordinators, told Variety that the festival is “completely taking its distance” from Haggis.

Variety also quoted a statement from the festival stating that its directors "immediately proceeded to remove any participation of the director from the event" and that they "express full solidarity with the women involved."

In December 2017, entertainment publicist Haleigh Breest filed a civil lawsuit against Haggis, accusing him of raping her in 2013. The next month, three more women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Haggis, including forced kissing, harassment, and rape, dating from 2015 back to 1996.

Haggis has denied the claims, and the lawsuit remains pending. He simultaneously sued Breest, alleging that she was trying to use a false accusation to extort $9 million from him; his suit was dismissed.

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