Paul Haggis Released in Italy Amid Sexual-Abuse Case

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Update, Monday, July 4 at 11:45 p.m.: An Italian judge has ordered that director Paul Haggis be released from house arrest while prosecutors decide whether to continue investigating a sexual-assault allegation against him, the Associated Press reports. Haggis was arrested in the Puglia region of Italy on June 19 after an unnamed British women alleged that he had non-consensual sex with her over two days. Haggis, who has maintained his innocence, was placed under police detention in a hotel after his arrest. Prosecutors reportedly did not immediately comment on the future status of the investigation after the judge’s ruling. When asked if the case might be dropped, Haggis’ lawyer said, “Let’s see what the prosecutor’s office will do at this point.” According to the lawyer, Haggis is still in Italy. The director previously faced four separate sexual-misconduct allegations in the U.S. in 2018, all of which he has denied.

Original story published June 19, 2022 follows.

Director Paul Haggis was arrested in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on charges of aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries, according to the New York Times and Variety. Reports from Italian media and a statement from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi have confirmed Haggis’s arrest. Per the reports, Haggis allegedly forced an unnamed young woman, identified as “foreign,” meaning non-Italian, to undergo sexual intercourse over the course of two days in Ostuni, where Haggis was scheduled to teach several master classes at the Allora film festival. According to an Italian police report, after assaulting the victim, Haggis dropped her off at the Papola Casale airport in Brindisi despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions.” The victim, who was in a “confused state,” was then aided by airport staff and border police, who took her to the the offices of the Italian squadra mobile police unit and the A. Perrino hospital in Brindisi, where Italy’s so-called “Pink Protocol” for rape victims was carried out. Formal charges were subsequently filed against Haggis.

Haggis’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement that she can’t discuss the evidence under Italian law. “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,” she continued. Haggis was previously sued in 2018 by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleged that he violently raped her in 2013. Three more women then came forward with separate sexual-misconduct allegations against Haggis. Due to COVID-19, the trial is still pending. Haggis has denied all of the allegations.

Paul Haggis Released in Italy Amid Sexual-Abuse Case