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Paul Haggis’ lawyer claimed the Oscar-winning director is “totally innocent” after reports surfaced he was arrested in the southern region of Italy on Sunday and placed under investigation of allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman.
“Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the evidence,” Haggis’ lawyer Priya Chaudhry told Fox News Digital. “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.”
Haggis, 69, has been in Italy for the Allora film festival that begins on Tuesday in Ostuni, a tourist town in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.
The news agency LaPresse, and several additional Italian media groups, carried a written statement from prosecutors in the city of Brindisi that they were investigating allegations a “young foreign woman” — meaning non-Italian — was forced to have “non-consensual” sexual relations over two days with the Canadian screenwriter.
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 encounters.
Italian news 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) precarious physical and psychological conditions.”
Prosecutors said airport staff and police noticed her “obvious confused state,” and after initial treatment, took her to Brindisi’s police headquarters, where officers accompanied her to a local hospital for examination.
Authorities said they weren’t authorized to give out information about the case, including her 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 carjacked 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 Jan. 31, 2013 in a New York City apartment. Her suit prompted three additional women to come forward under the 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 the women in question may have suspect motivations for coming forward.
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