Paul Haggis Arrested on New Sex Assault Charges

Director in Italy for film fest, accused of 'non-consensual' sexual relations with woman for 2 days
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2022 12:50 AM CDT
Updated Jun 20, 2022 6:11 AM CDT
Paul Haggis Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges
Director Paul Haggis attends the world premiere of "Spielberg", during the 55th New York Film Festival in New York, Oct. 5, 2017.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Paul Haggis, filmmaker and well-known former Scientologist, was arrested Sunday in Italy on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury, according to multiple reports in Italian media as well as a statement from public prosecutors in the region. Haggis, the director of Crash and screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby, was in the tourist town of Ostuni for a new film festival, Allora Fest, set to start Tuesday, per the Hollywood Reporter. Prosecutors say someone identified only as a "young foreign woman" (meaning not Italian) was forced, over the course of two days, to have "non-consensual" sexual relations and that she was "forced to seek medical care," the AP reports. The festival told Variety that following Haggis' arrest, any and all of his participation in the event was removed.

Haggis' lawyer says that under Italian law she cannot discuss the allegations, but "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." Per the police report, the alleged victim was left, by an unnamed man, at an airport at dawn in "precarious physical and psychological conditions" and an "obvious confused state" and was aided by airport staff and police and then taken to a hospital. In 2018, Haggis was sued by a publicist who said Haggis raped her in her New York apartment following a premiere; three more women ultimately came forward, but Haggis denied all the allegations and some said the Church of Scientology could be behind them. That trial has been delayed by COVID and is still pending. (More Paul Haggis stories.)

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