Paul Haggis arrested in Italy for sexual assault

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Oscar-winning Canadian screenwriter and director Paul Haggis has been arrested in Ostuni, southern Italy, for sexual assault and grievous bodily harm allegedly inflicted on an as yet unidentified woman who filed a complaint.

According to several Italian press articles and a note from the prosecutor of the nearby town of Brindisi, Haggis is accused of forcing a young “foreign” – i.e. non-Italian – woman to have sex for two days. in Ostuni, when he was to give several master classes at Allora Fest, a new cinematic event launched by the Italian journalist based in Los Angeles Silvia Bizio and the Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton which should take place in Ostuni from June June 21 to 26.

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Bizio confirmed Variety that Haggis is under arrest.

In a statement, The Allora Fest said it had “learned with dismay and shock the news that Paul Haggis is in police custody for alleged violence.

The directors of the festival “immediately proceeded to withdraw any participation of the director in the event” and “at the same time they express their full solidarity with the woman involved”, they added.

“The themes chosen for the festival are, among others, those of equality, gender equality and solidarity. As professionals and women, they are appalled and hope that the festival will help foster more information and awareness on such a topical and increasingly urgent issue,” the statement continued.

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Variety has contacted Haggis representatives for comment.

According to a report by the Italian police, the alleged victim, after being assaulted, was taken by Haggis to Papola Casale airport in Brindisi and left there on Sunday morning at dawn, despite his “precarious physical and psychological conditions “.

At the airport, the alleged rape victim, who was in a “confused state” was assisted by airport staff and border police who, after giving her first aid, accompanied her to the offices of the mobile police unit of the Italian brigade. Police officers then took the woman to A. Perrino Hospital in Brindisi, where Italy’s so-called “pink protocol” for rape victims was put into effect.

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Subsequently, the alleged victim filed formal charges against Haggis.

Haggis, who wrote “Million Dollar Baby” and co-wrote and directed “Crash,” for which he won an Oscar, was continued in 2018 by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleged he violently raped her after a premiere in 2013. The suit prompted three more women to come forward with their own sexual misconduct charges against Haggis, who has vehemently denied the allegations. The trial is still ongoing, due to COVID delays.

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