Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury.
The Crash director was detained on Sunday (June 19) by police in Ostuni, Italy, after an unidentified woman pressed charges against him.
In a statement to Variety, an attorney for Haggis, Priya Chaudhry, denied the allegations. “Under Italian law, I cannot discuss the evidence,” Chaudhry said. “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.”
According to Italian press reports, Haggis is charged with forcing a “young foreign woman” to have “non-consensual” sexual relations over two days in Ostuni, where he was scheduled to attend the Allora Fest film festival from June 21 to June 26.
In a statement from prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando, who are conducting the investigation, it’s claimed the woman was “forced to seek medical help” after the sexual relations. After two days “of non-consensual relations, the woman was accompanied by the man” to the airport in the nearby city of Brindisi and was “left there at dawn despite [her] precarious physical and psychological conditions”.
After noticing her “confused state”, airport staff and police took her to Brindisi’s police headquarters, where she subsequently filed charges against Haggis.
Following his arrest, organisers of the Allora Fest film festival “immediately proceeded to remove any participation of the director from the event”. They added: “At the same time, they express full solidarity with the woman involved.”
Along with directing, writing and producing 2005 film Crash, Haggis is known for co-writing James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. He also served as a writer and producer on 2004’s Million Dollar Baby.
Haggis was sued in 2018 by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleged that he had raped her after a premiere in 2013. The case prompted three additional women to come forward with further sexual misconduct allegations against Harris, who has vehemently denied all the claims. The trial is still pending due to COVID delays.