Reports: Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis detained in Italy in sexual assault case

Paul Haggis, an Oscar-winning screenwriter who won an Academy Award in 2006 for “Crash,” was detained in Italy on Sunday over allegations he sexually assaulted a woman, according to several media reports.

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The Canadian-born Haggis, 69, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay for “Crash” and also wrote the screenplay for Clint Eastwood’s 2004 film, “Million Dollar Baby,” was arrested on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury, according to the news agency LaPresse, thew newspaper Corriere della Serra and other media outlets.

Haggis has been in Italy for a film festival that begins on Tuesday in Ostuni, a tourist town in Puglia, The Associated Press reported.

He was scheduled to hold several master classes at the Allora Fest, a new film event hosted by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton, Variety reported.

Bizio has confirmed to the website that Haggis was arrested. She added that the festival is “completely taking its distance” from him, Variety reported.

Prosecutors in the city of Brindisi released a statement that said 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 “forced to seek medical care” following the sexual relations. 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.”

Haggis was sued in 2018 by a publicist, who alleged that he had violently raped her after a premiere in 2013, Variety reported.

Haggis denied the original rape allegation in a counter-complaint to the lawsuit and said the accuser and her lawyer had demanded a $9 million payment to avoid legal action, the AP reported.

According to Corriere della Serra, Haggis released a statement Sunday through his attorney, Michele Laforgia.

“Make inquiries as soon as possible, I am totally innocent,” Haggis said, according to Laforgia.

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