Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis arrested in Italy on sexual assault charges

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June 20 (Reuters) – Oscar-winning Canadian screenwriter and director Paul Haggis was arrested on Sunday in southern Italy on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury allegedly inflicted upon an unidentified woman, with Haggis denying the accusations.

Haggis was charged with forcing a young “foreign” (non-Italian) woman to undergo sexual intercourse over the course of two days in Ostuni, Italy, according to a note on Sunday from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi.

“Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the evidence. That said, I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis,” Haggis’ personal attorney Priya Chaudhry said in a statement to the media. Chaudhry added Haggis was innocent and would cooperate with authorities.

Haggis wrote “Million Dollar Baby” and co-wrote and directed “Crash”, both of which he won an Oscar for.

Haggis was in Ostuni to hold several masterclasses at the Allora Fest, a new film event being launched by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton that is set to run in Ostuni from June 21 to June 26.

The Allora Fest said they “learned with dismay and shock the news that Paul Haggis is in custody for alleged violence.” It added that the festival’s directors “immediately proceeded to remove any participation of the director from the event.”

Photo – Canadian director Paul Haggis . EPA/SAMANTHA ZUCCHI

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