Paul Haggis Arrested in Italy on Sexual-Assault Charges

Director Paul Haggis was arrested in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on charges of aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries, according to the New York Times and variety. Reports from Italian media and a statement from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi 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 the course of 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.” The victim, who was in a “confused state,” was then aided by airport staff and border police, who took her to the 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. Formal charges were subsequently filed against Haggis.

Haggis’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement that she can’t discuss the evidence under Italian law. “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,” she continued. Haggis was previously 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. Haggis has denied all of the allegations.

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