Celebrity Oscar-Winning Director Paul Haggis Detained in Italy on Sexual Assault Charges

Celebrity writer, director, and producer Paul Haggis, who is well known for the Oscar-winning Best Picture Crash, was arrested in the Southern Italian city of Ostuni on Sunday. Local police charged the 69-year-old with “sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.”

According to the police statement, after two days of “nonconsensual intercourse,” Haggis drove his accuser, who is not Italian, to the Brindisi airport at the first rays of dawn, despite the woman’s poor physical and psychological conditions. Staff at the airport saw a woman in a “confusional state,” which drew the attention of authorities, who escorted her to a nearby hospital.

According to her allegations, the renowned filmmaker would have forced the young woman he had met some time earlier to have sexual intercourse. According to a description of the arrest paperwork, the woman told investigating prosecutor Antonio Negro that she was raped for days, “from Sunday evening through Wednesday.”

The woman, who carries a British passport, was sent to the hospital for treatment in accordance with Italy’s “pink procedure” for rape victims, which includes psychological counseling, after an initial medical assessment at the airport health center. According to the prosecutor’s office, she suffered several non-consenting sexual attacks, one of which was so serious that she was obliged to seek medical assistance.

Haggis was in the neighborhood before attending the Allora International Film, Art, and Music Festival, which was celebrating its “first edition” year. Casino Royale, which Haggis co-wrote, will be released on June 26.

The music and film festivals quickly distanced themselves from Haggis, canceling all events in which he was slated to appear.

Police then reviewed the surveillance footage from outside Haggis’ hotel room and the airport, which allegedly shows she was with him. They waited until the woman had safely exited Italy before arresting the director. Haggis is being held under house arrest in an Ostuni hotel, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The director has faced legal trouble before. In 2017, Haggis was accused of raping a film publicist in 2013. Haggis countersued the woman, alleging a swindle. In 2018, three more women came forward to accuse the Oscar-winning director and the initial accuser successfully charged him with “gender-motivated hate crime.”

The celebrity director, who left the Church of Scientology in 2009, claims that the sex assault charges are simply church vengeance for having broken ties after 35 years; a claim denied by his accusers.

Photo Sam Aronov

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