Director Paul Haggis arrested in Italy for sexual assault

Canadian director and producer Paul Haggis has been arrested in southern Italy on suspicion of “aggravated” sexual assault against a young foreign woman, Italian news agencies said on Sunday, citing the prosecution.

The director and screenwriter is “seriously suspected of crimes of sexual assault and aggravated bodily harm, crimes committed against a young foreign woman”, ANSA and AGI agencies said, citing the Brindisi prosecutor. Mr. Haggis denied these allegations. “Investigate as soon as possible, I am completely innocent”, he said through his Italian lawyer, Michele Laforgia, according to the agencies. Paul Haggis, 69, who wrote and directed the Oscar-winning film ‘Crash’ (‘Collision’), was due to star at the Allora Fest film festival which kicks off on Tuesday in the town of Ostuni, in the province of Brindisi.

The young woman alleged victim had been with Mr. Haggis before the festival, according to the prosecution. “The suspect allegedly forced the young woman, whom he met some time before, to have sex”, said the prosecutor. Following one of these reports, the young woman “was forced to seek medical treatment”adds this same source.