Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis has been arrested in Italy for sexual assault and aggravated bodily harm.
According to Variety and the Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Serra, the filmmaker is accused of having sexually assaulted a young non-Italian woman who filed a complaint.
Haggis – best known for co-writing and directing 2006 Best Picture winner ‘Crash’ – was arrested in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on Sunday, where he is accused of sexually assaulting the wife for two days while in town for an entertainment industry event, Variety reported, citing Italian press coverage and a memo from the prosecutor in nearby Brindisi.
The event, Allora Fest, was recently kicked off by LA-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton and is set to run from Tuesday through next Sunday. Haggis was scheduled to give several master classes during the week.
Bizio told Variety that Allora Fest is “completely distancing itself” from Haggis in the wake of the arrest and promised to issue an official statement on the matter soon.
According to an Italian police report obtained by Variety, Haggis flew the alleged victim to Brindisi’s Papola Casale Airport and left her there early Sunday. The report noted that the woman was in a “precarious physical and psychological condition” at the airport, where she was being assisted by staff and border police who administered first aid.
After receiving emergency treatment, the Haggis accuser was taken to the Italian Brigade Mobile Police Unit and Perrino Hospital in Brindisi, where she was treated as a rape victim.
Haggis was previously sued by publicist Haleigh Breest, who accused the “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter of sexually assaulting her in her New York apartment in 2013. Three other women later accused Haggis of sexual misconduct, but Haggis denied the allegations.