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Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis was arrested in Italy Sunday on sexual assault charges, per Variety

Haggis is accused of forcing a young “foreign” woman, someone who is not Italian, into engaging in sexual intercourse over two days in the city of Ostuni, where he’s been allegedly staying ahead of the Allora Fest, which begins this week. He was scheduled to participate in several master classes, but festival organizers “immediately proceeded to remove any participation of the director from the event,” according to a statement.

The police report states the alleged victim was taken by Haggis to the airport following the incident and left there early Friday morning despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions.” Airport staff and border police helped escort the alleged victim, who was described as being in a “confused state,” to the offices of the Italian squadra mobile police unit. 

She was eventually taken to the hospital, and while there, formal charges against Haggis were filed.  

“Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the evidence,” his attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement. “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 sued in 2017 by a publicist who accused him of rape four years earlier. He countersued, alleging he was the victim of a $9 million extortion attempt. However, her accusation led to three other women coming forward with their own sexual misconduct allegations against him. 

Haggis won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the 2004 film Crash. He was also nominated for Best Director that same year, and received a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Million Dollar Baby the year prior. He has failed to reach anything close to this level of success in well over a decade. 

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