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Oscar-winning director held in Italy over sexual assault allegations

Paul Haggis, the film director, is currently being held in Italy while prosecutors investigate allegations that he had sex without her consent for two days.

Prosecutors in Brindisi (a port town in Puglia) announced on Sunday that the Canadian-born director was being investigated for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated personal injury.

Haggis’ lawyers claim he denies all the allegations.

Antonio Negro, Brindisi’s prosecutor, stated Monday that it is still not clear when the hearing will take place.

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Prosecutors describe the alleged victim as a “young foreign women”, but state TV and other Italian media claim she is English.

According to media reports, the producer and screenwriter is being held in Ostuni’s hotel room. He arrived in Ostuni to participate in an arts festival which begins Tuesday.

Prosecutors stated that Haggis “forced” the young woman, who was known to him from a long time ago to have sexual relations.

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In the statement, it was also stated that the woman was “forced” to seek medical attention.

Prosecutors claimed that the woman was taken to Brindisi airport by Haggis after having “non-consensual” relations for a few days. They then “left her there at dawn, despite her precarious psychological and physical conditions”.

They also added that she was “obviously confused” by airport staff and police. She was taken to Brindisi’s Police Headquarters, where officers took her to an examination room at a local hospital.

Haggis’s Italian lawyer was present in court Monday morning to discuss other matters. He could not be reached for comment.

Priya Chaudhry, the US-based US lawyer representing the screenwriter and director, told the Associated Press on Sunday that she couldn’t discuss the evidence under Italian law but that she was confident that all allegations against Mr. Haggis will be dismissed.

She said, “He is completely innocent and will fully cooperate with the authorities to get the truth out quickly.”

Italic law allows a judge to decide whether Haggis is allowed to be released pending further investigation.

A judge can also decide whether there is a flight danger, the possibility of tampering or the same alleged crime. He can order him to jail or house arrest.

Haggis, now 69, co-wrote Million Dollar Baby and directed Crash. Both of these films won him an Oscar.

He denied all allegations of sexual misconduct by four women in 2018, including two that he raped.

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