The director of the movie Crash, Paul Haggis, was taken into custody in Italy on suspicion of sexual assault
New sexual assault allegations have surfaced against Paul Haggis.
According to Variety and the Italian newspaper Corriere de la Sera, the Oscar-winning Crash filmmaker was arrested on June 19 in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on charges of sexual assault and serious physical harm.
In a letter to Variety, Haggis’ longtime personal attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said, “Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the facts.”
“Having said that, I am convinced that any charges leveled against Mr. Haggis will be dismissed. He is completely innocent and wants to fully cooperate with the authorities in order for the truth to be revealed as soon as possible. “
According to Corriere della Sera, the public prosecutor of the province of Brindisi stated that Haggis, 69, reportedly forced a young “foreign” woman to have sex for two days in Ostuni, then accompanied her to an airport and left her there in the morning.
According to the statement, airport workers and police provided first aid to the alleged victim and brought her to a hospital where she was treated according to Italy’s “pink protocol” for rape victims. After that, she filed formal charges against Haggis.
Haggis’ representatives have been contacted for comment by E! News.
The Canadian director and screenwriter was in Ostumi for Allora Fest, which runs from June 21 to June 26. According to Variety, event organizers “heard with dismay and amazement that Paul Haggis had been arrested for suspected assault” and “quickly proceeded to eliminate any participation of the director from the event.”
This isn’t the first time Haggis has faced sexual misconduct charges.
Haleigh Breest, a publicist, filed a civil case against the two-time Oscar winner in 2017, alleging that he raped her in a New York City apartment after a film premiere in 2013.
He responded by denying the charges and accusing her of extortion, claiming she demanded a $9 million payment. Breest’s attorney has described his client’s claims as “ludicrous.”
According to court records acquired by E! News, Haggis stated that all of his sexual interactions with Breest were voluntary.
In response to Breest’s lawsuit, Haggis stated that he did not force her to give him oral information without her consent.
In addition to Haggis’ accusations, the records include “statements of support” from scores of women who portray the filmmaker in a positive and professional light.
E! News got records from the New York Supreme Court that show Breest’s case is still open, while Haggis’ counter-suit was settled in 2017.
According to several sites, Breest’s lawsuit prompted three other women to go forward, anonymously, with their own claims of sexual assault and harassment by Haggis, alleging interactions with him between 1996 and 2015.
They haven’t gone to court against the filmmaker, though, because his lawyer told Reuters that he didn’t agree with “these anonymous charges.”
Before facing any accusations, Haggis had previously commented on disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and the widespread sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood.
Haggis made headlines years ago when he spoke out against Scientology after leaving the religion. He had also said things about disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the many claims of sexual misconduct against him.
“You have to focus on individuals who may have colluded and sheltered him, even though everyone thinks it’s horrible behavior,” Haggis told The Guardian in October 2017.
“They are, in my opinion, just as guilty as he is, and in some cases even more so, if I may say so. He was a predator, after all, and a predator is a predator. What about those who would prefer to turn a blind eye? “
While he does not believe sexual harassment and abuse are widespread in Hollywood, he does acknowledge that it is a “pretty sexist” culture, adding, “It is not an innocent place and never has been.”