Paul Haggis is facing charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury. The 69-year-old Canadian-born director and screenwriter was arrested on Sunday in the town of Ostuni in southern Italy, based on the complaint of a yet-unidentified woman who has pressed charges against him.
Haggis is being accused of forcing the woman to engage in sexual intercourse in the run-up to the Allora Fest that will take place there next week.
According to Italian police reports, after assaulting the woman, Haggis left her at a local airport suffering from “precarious physical and psychological conditions.
” Airport staff and police took her to a hospital in Brindisi where she was treated in accordance with Italy’s “pink protocol” for rape victims.
Haggis’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, issued a statement that said: “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.
The directors of the Allora Fest also took immediate action to remove Haggis from participation in the event and expressed “full solidarity” with the woman who brought the charges. They issued a statement that said in part: “The themes chosen for the festival are, among others, those of equality, gender equality, and solidarity. As professionals and women they are dismayed and hope that the festival will help foster more information and awareness on such a topical and increasingly pressing issue.”
Haggis won Academy Awards for writing Million Dollar Baby (2004) and for co-writing and directing Crash (2005). He was also nominated for an Oscar for Letters From Iwo Jima (2006). His latest film, 5B (2018) was codirected with Dan Krauss.
Haggis is also being sued for sexual assaults on several other women, including publicist Haleigh Breest, whose trial is still pending, delayed as a result of the COVID pandemic.