Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and serious bodily harm.
The Accident The director was arrested on Sunday June 19 by police in Ostuni, Italy, after an unidentified woman filed a complaint against him.
In a statement to Variety, a lawyer for Haggis, Priya Chaudhry, denied the allegations. “Under Italian law, I cannot discuss the evidence,” Chaudhry said. “Having said that, I am confident that all allegations against Mr. Haggis will be dismissed.
“He is totally innocent and ready to cooperate fully with the authorities to get the truth out quickly.”
According to the Italian press, Haggis is accused of forcing a “young foreign woman” to have “non-consensual” sex for two days in Ostuni, where he was due to attend the Allora Fest film festival from June 21-26.
In a statement from prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando, who are leading the investigation, it is claimed the woman was “forced to see a doctor” after the sex. After two days “of non-consensual relations, the woman was accompanied by the man” to the airport in the nearby town 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 police headquarters, where she later filed a complaint against Haggis.
Following his arrest, the organizers of the Allora Fest film festival “immediately proceeded to withdraw the director’s participation in the event”. They added, “At the same time, they express their full solidarity with the woman involved.”
Along with directing, writing and producing the 2005 film AccidentHaggis is known for co-writing James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Comfort. He was also a screenwriter and producer on 2004 Million dollar baby.
Haggis was sued in 2018 by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleged he raped her after a first in 2013. The case prompted three other women to come forward with new sexual misconduct allegations against Harris, who vehemently denied all the allegations. The trial is still ongoing due to COVID delays.
For help, advice or more information about sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the charity Rape Crisis website. In the United States, visit RAINN.