Italian Police Arrest ‘Casino Royale’ Screenwriter Paul Haggis on Sexual Abuse Allegations

Posted on: June 20, 2022, 05:56h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2022, 01:32h.

Police in the Italian city of Ostuni arrested Canadian screenwriter/director Paul Haggis, responsible for Casino Royale and other Hollywood blockbusters, yesterday. He faces allegations of sexually abusing a woman for two days, according to local media.

Hollywood mogul Paul Haggis in 2017
Hollywood mogul Paul Haggis in 2017, as he defended himself against sexual assault charges. He faces the same charges now in Italy. (Image: Shutterstock)

Haggis, who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for Crash in 2005, is also responsible for Million Dollar Baby in 2004 and Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006. Police detained him on a precautionary basis, according to public TV station RAI, citing a statement from the Brindisi Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecutors accuse Haggis of the crimes of sexual violence and aggravated personal injury. He was reportedly in Ostuni in Italy’s southern Apulia region to participate in the “Allora Fest” festival. The event is a film, art, and music festival in which Haggis was to participate in a talk with Edward Norton and Michael Nozik.

Hollywood Gets Another Black Eye

With a hint of the activity that took down Harvey Weinstein, investigators say Haggis allegedly forced an unidentified woman to have sex for two days. He then abandoned her at the Papola Casale airport near Brindisi despite her “precarious” physical and psychological conditions.

Airport staff and customs police assisted the woman in filing a complaint. They then drove her to the Brindisi hospital for a thorough examination.

The prosecutors added in their charges that, according to the evidence they collected, Haggis forced the young woman, a long-time acquaintance, to have sexual relations.

The Hollywood mogul’s lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, is already on the case, ready to defend her client. She said in a statement that she is confident that the allegations will be dismissed, as Haggis is “totally innocent” of the charges. However, Chaudhry added that her client is “willing to cooperate fully with the authorities so that the truth comes to light quickly.”

Not the First Time

This isn’t the first time Haggis has faced charges of sexual assault or rape, a history that will haunt him in this latest incident. In January 2018, four women in the US accused him of various crimes, including sexual assault, harassment and rape. Their accusations followed a complaint publicist Haleigh Breest filed in New York for rape.

Breest accused Haggis of raping her in his SoHo apartment after a film’s premiere in 2013 using “significant force and violence.” After the fact, the publicist went to a clinic to perform an analysis to rule out having contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Subsequently, in 2017, she reportedly began a psychological treatment as a result of the trauma of the event.

On the other hand, the second complainant, whose identity remains confidential, accused him of an event that occurred in 1996, when she worked with Haggis on a television program. The complainant claims that the director forced her to perform oral sex on him before raping her. Following his testimony, two more women (who also remain anonymous) reported Haggis of attempted sexual abuse.

Haggis, a former member of the Church of Scientology, fought back in an effort to claim himself as the victim. In his own complaint against Breest, Haggis claimed to have maintained “a friendly and flirtatious relationship” with the woman. However, he denied sexually abusing her. As a result, he sued her for extortion in the form of slander.

The case is still ongoing. Haggis had to supply his DNA to the court to respond to the accusations. At the same time, he has attempted to force the court to strike testimony from the other alleged victims.