The Crash director and Bond writer is accused of forcing a young woman to have sex with him who then needed medical attention.
Filmmaker Paul Haggis, 69, has been arrested in Italy in connection with allegations that he sexually assaulted a young woman in the country.
Canadian-born Haggis, who won an Academy Award for the 2005 film Crash, which he directed and co-wrote, was was in the southern hilltop city of Ostuni to teach classes at a festival to begin on Tuesday.
He was arrested yesterday and accused of forcing his alleged victim, who was also a foreigner, to have sex with him over the course of two days, according to local reports, which cited a statement from prosecutors in Brindisi.
Police were said to have opened an investigation after the woman appeared at the airport in Brindisi, in the Puglia region, seeming confused and needing medical attention. Haggis was said to have brought her there at dawn on Sunday morning and to have attempted to fly her out of the country. He was said to have left her there when she resisted. Airport staff took her to a police station and officers took her to hospital, according to the statement.
An attorney for Haggis, Priya Chaudhry, issued a statement declaring the director “totally innocent”. “Under Italian law, I cannot discuss the evidence,” Chaudhry said. “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.”
A statement from the film fest to the outlet Variety said organizers had “learned with dismay and shock the news that Paul Haggis is in custody for alleged violence”.
Haggis began his career writing for television. He was the screenwriter and producer for the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, and was also a writer on the Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.