Paul Haggis ‘totally innocent’ after being arrested for sexual assault in Italy, lawyer says

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Paul Haggis’ lawyer has claimed the Oscar-winning director is ‘completely innocent’ after reports surfaced he was arrested in southern Italy on Sunday and placed under investigation over allegations he assaulted sexually a woman.

“Under Italian law, I cannot discuss the evidence,” Haggis’ attorney Priya Chaudhry told Fox News Digital. “Having said that, I am confident that all allegations against Mr Haggis will be dismissed.

“He is totally innocent and ready to cooperate fully with the authorities to get the truth out quickly.”

Haggis, 69, was in Italy for the Allora film festival which kicks off on Tuesday in Ostuni, a tourist town in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.

Paul Haggis attends the 2021 AmiCorti Film Festival on June 16, 2021 in Peveragno, Italy.
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Paul Haggis attends the 2021 AmiCorti Film Festival on June 16, 2021 in Peveragno, Italy.
(Daniele Venturelli)

The LaPresse news agency and several other Italian media groups released a written statement from Brindisi city prosecutors that they were investigating allegations that a “young foreign woman” – i.e. non-Italian – allegedly forced to have “non-consensual” sex. two-day relationship with the Canadian screenwriter.

Prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando, who are leading the investigation, said in the statement that the woman was “forced to see a doctor” following the sex.

Italian media reported that after a few 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) physical conditions and psychologically precarious”.

Prosecutors said airport staff and police noticed her “obvious state of confusion” and, after initial treatment, took her to Brindisi police headquarters, where officers accompanied her to a local hospital for an examination.

Authorities said they were not authorized to release any information about the case, including his nationality or age, or Haggis’ whereabouts.

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Haggis won an Oscar in 2006 for Best Original Screenplay for “Crash,” which was inspired by his own real-life incident where he was the victim of a carjacking outside a video store in Los Angeles.

The Canadian director, who also wrote ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and ‘Flags of Our Fathers’, has been accused of rape and sexual misconduct by a total of four women, citing incidents that allegedly occurred between 1996 and 2015.

Publicist Haleigh Breest filed a civil lawsuit in December 2017 and claimed Haggis raped her on January 31, 2013 in a New York apartment. Her costume prompted three additional women to come forward on condition of anonymity, according to AP.

Haggis was a Scientologist for 35 years and left the church in 2009. Shortly after the lawsuits, Leah Remini and her “Scientology and the Aftermath” co-host, Mike Rinder, released a lengthy statement defending Haggis and claiming that the women in question may have suspicious motives for coming forward.

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