Paul Haggis Arrested in Italy on Sexual-Assault Charges

According to the New York Times and Variety, Director Paul Haggis was arrested in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on charges of aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.

Reports from Italian media and a statement from the nearby city of Brindisi public prosecutor have confirmed Haggis’s arrest.

Per the reports, Haggis allegedly forced an unnamed young woman, identified as “foreign,” meaning non-Italian, to undergo sexual intercourse over two days in Ostuni, where Haggis was scheduled to teach several master classes at the Allora film festival.

According to an Italian police report, after assaulting the victim, Haggis dropped her off at the Papola Casale airport in Brindisi despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions.”

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The victim, who was “confused,” was then aided by airport staff and border police, who took her to the offices of the Italian Squadra mobile police unit and the A. Perrino hospital in Brindisi, where Italy’s so-called “Pink Protocol” for rape victims was carried out.

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Formal charges were subsequently pointed against Haggis. Haggis’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement that she couldn’t discuss the evidence under Italian law. “That said, I am confident all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis.

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He is innocent and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities, so the truth comes out quickly,” she continued.

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Haggis was sued in 2018 by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleged that he violently raped her in 2013. Three more women then came forward with separate sexual-misconduct allegations against Haggis. Due to COVID-19, the trial is still pending, and Haggis has denied all of the allegations.