Director Paul Haggis detained in Italy in relation to assault case

Oscar-winning screenwriter held for investigation of alleged assault on woman, prosecutors say

Oscar-winning Canadian screenwriter, director and producer Paul Haggis. AFP
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Film director Paul Haggis was detained on Sunday for investigation following allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in southern Italy, Italian news media said, quoting local prosecutors.

Canadian-born Oscar-winner Haggis was in Italy for a film festival that begins on Tuesday in Ostuni, a tourist town in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.

The news agency LaPresse and several other Italian media carried a statement from prosecutors in the nearby city of Brindisi that they were investigating allegations that a “young foreign woman” was forced to have “non-consensual” sexual relations over two days.

Prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando, who are conducting the investigation, said in the statement that the woman was later “forced to seek medical care”.

After a couple of days “of non-consensual relations, the woman was accompanied by the man” to Brindisi airport on Sunday and “was left there at dawn despite [her] precarious physical and psychological conditions".

The Brindisi prosecutors' office was closed on Sunday. Haggis’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prosecutors said airport staff and police noticed her “obvious confused state” and after giving initial treatment, took her to Brindisi's police headquarters, where officers accompanied her to a hospital for examination.

Police at headquarters' operations room said they were not authorised to talk about the case.

Haggis is a director, producer and screenwriter. He won an Oscar in 2006 for best original screenplay for Crash.

Prosecutors also were quoted as saying that the woman “formalised her complaint and cited circumstances which were subsequently looked into for confirmation by investigators”.

They did not provide her nationality or age.

Updated: June 19, 2022, 7:41 PM