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Paul Haggis, Oscar-winning screenwriter and director, detained in Italy on sexual assault charges


According to a statement from local prosecutors and his legal team, Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis has been detained in Italy on suspicion of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury.

The 69-year-old Canadian-born director and screenwriter, who won two Oscars for his work on the 2004 crime drama “Crash,” was in the country to attend the Ostuni Film Festival, which begins Tuesday in the southern Italian region of Puglia.

In a statement issued Sunday, public prosecutors in the nearby town of Brindisi said they had issued a warrant for the arrest of a “70-year-old” Canadian man identified as “P.H.,” who was staying in Ostuni.

“The man is seriously suspected of aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injury, crimes committed to the detriment of a young foreign woman,” they said.

Priya Chaudhry, Haggis’ US-based attorney, stated that she is “confident that all allegations against Mr. Haggis will be dismissed,” while noting that Italian law prevents her from discussing the evidence.
“He is completely innocent and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so that the truth can be revealed quickly,” she added.

Michele Laforgia, Haggis’ Italian lawyer, said in a press statement Sunday: “Paul Haggis is currently detained at his home in Ostuni by the Public Prosecutor of Brindisi. We are waiting for the Judge to summon us for Preliminary Investigations for the custody interrogation and to present our version of events.”

He continued: “Haggis immediately declared his innocence and expressed his desire for all necessary investigations to be completed as soon as possible. Obviously, we cannot make any further statements or provide details about the accusations until we have fully learned the facts of the legal case behind the precautionary measure and have been heard by the judicial authorities.”

Haggis is a well-known director, screenwriter, and producer. His film credits include “Crash,” for which he received Oscars for best picture and best original screenplay at the 2006 Academy Awards, as well as screenplays for the multi-Academy Award-winning “Million Dollar Baby” and the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”

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