Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis arrested in Italy for alleged sexual assault

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Paul Haggis, through his Italian lawyer, Michele Laforgia, has denied the allegations. (CASE)

Rome:

Oscar-winning Canadian director Paul Haggis has been arrested in southern Italy on suspicion of aggravated sexual assault, Italian news agencies reported on Sunday, citing local prosecutors.

A press release from the Brindisi public prosecutor’s office indicated that the director and screenwriter was “seriously suspected of the crimes of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated bodily harm, crimes committed against a young foreign woman”, reported the ANSA and AGI agencies.

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Through his Italian lawyer, Michele Laforgia, Haggis denied the allegations.

“Find out as soon as possible, I am totally innocent,” he said, according to the agencies, citing Laforgia.

Neither the prosecutor’s office nor Laforgia responded to after-hours requests for additional information on Sunday.

Haggis, 69, who wrote and produced the Oscar-winning film ‘Crash’, was due to headline the ‘Allora Fest’ film festival from Tuesday in the town of Ostuni, in the province of Brindisi.

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The alleged victim had stayed with Haggis before the festival, prosecutors said.

“The suspect allegedly forced the young woman, whom he met some time ago, to have sex,” they wrote.

Following an encounter, the woman was “forced to see a doctor”, they wrote.

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