The 'Crash' and 'Million Dollar Baby' writer-director has previously been accused of sexual misconduct.
Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning director behind the 2004 crime-drama Crash has been arrested in Italy on sexual assault charges. According to reports from both Italian media and a statement from public prosecutors in Southern Italy, Haggis was detained in Ostuni on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury.
An unnamed woman has accused the director of forcing her to engage in sexual intercourse over a two-day period. She was allegedly left at Papola Casale airport on Sunday where airport security worked with authorities and she was taken to a local hospital. The woman was allegedly experiencing “precarious physical and psychological conditions.” At the hospital, the woman filed formal charges against the director.
Priya Chaudhry, Paul Haggis' lawyer tells ET, "Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the evidence. That said, 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."
Haggis was in Ostuni preparing to teach master classes at the Allora Film Festival that is set to run from June 21-26.
In a statement to Variety, Allora Fest said they have “learned with dismay and shock the news that Paul Haggis is in custody for alleged violence.” The fest’s directors “immediately proceeded to remove any participation of the director from the event” and “At the same time, they express full solidarity with the woman involved,” they continued. “The themes chosen for the festival are, among others, those of equality, gender equality, and solidarity. As professionals and women they are dismayed and hope that the festival will help foster more information and awareness on such a topical and increasingly pressing issue,” the statement concluded.
In addition to writing and directing Crash, Haggis wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby.
This is not Haggis' first sexual assault allegation. In 2018, publicist Haleigh Breest filed a civil lawsuit accusing Haggis of raping her in 2013. After the lawsuit came to light, three more women came forward to accuse Haggis of sexual misconduct. Haggis denied the allegations. Due to COVID-related delays, the trial was postponed and is still pending.