Monday, June 27, 2022

Paul Haggis arrested: ‘Crash’ director accused of sexually assaulting woman in Italy and abandoning her at airport

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Paul Haggis’ lawyer, Priya Chaudhary, said: “Under Italian law I cannot discuss the evidence, he is completely innocent and ready to cooperate fully.”

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis was arrested in Italy on June 19, Sunday, after a “foreign woman” accused him of sexual assault. The 69-year-old director was taken away from the southern Italian city of Ostuni after the woman claimed he had held her in his hotel room and forced him to have sex with her. According to her, the attack lasted two days. According to a local prosecutor, Haggis was in Italy for the Allora Fest international music and film festival and had a “non-amicable” relationship with the unidentified woman. He also queued with Oliver Stone, Matt Dillon, Edward Norton and Marisa Tomei to officiate the event.

The incident was brought to light by police in the regional capital, Brindisi, to The Daily Beast. They also said the alleged victim could also be working as a sex worker at the festival and that after allegedly assaulting her, the 69-year-old screenwriter took her to the airport and tried to fly her out of Italy. Despite her distraught physical and mental state, he reportedly left her at the scene. The woman was assisted at the scene by the airport staff, who helped her to inform the police, from where she went to the hospital and underwent standard rape victim protocol. Authorities said they were not authorized to release any information about the case, the victim or the whereabouts of the two-time Oscar winner and director.

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Paul Haggis history of sexual allegations

The victim was forced to seek medical help after the alleged sexual assault, according to prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando, who are conducting the investigation. Shortly after the arrest, Haggis’ attorney, Priya Chaudhary, told Fox News Digital: “Italian law does not allow me to discuss the evidence. Despite this, I am confident that all allegations against Mr Haggis will be dismissed. He is completely innocent and willing to cooperate fully with the authorities so that the truth is quickly known.” But it is not the first time for Haggis that allegations of sexual assault have come up.

Speaking of success, Haggis is the first person to have written back-to-back Best Picture Oscar-winning films — 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby” and 2005’s “Crash.” Back in 2017, the talent was accused of violently raping Haleigh Breest, a publicist, in a New York apartment. The lawsuit, filed in December 2017, found the crime was reported after 4 years. The filing reads: “The truth she knows and has lived is that behind the facade of these comments is another predator, a man willing to impose himself on a young woman less than half her age like him, and reveling in the fear and pain he has inflicted on her. Ms. Breest will no longer look the other way.”

The media quickly picked up the news and three other women came forward accusing Haggis of sexual allegations.

Following Haggis’ arrest on June 19, Allora Fest released a statement written in Italian, stating: “Any participation by the director will be immediately banned from the event. At the same time, we express our full solidarity with the woman involved in the matter. The themes chosen for the festival are equality, gender equality and solidarity. As professionals and women, we are dismayed and hope that the festival will be a tool of information and awareness raising on such a topical and dramatically increasing issue.”

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