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Academy Award-winning film director Paul Haggis was detained in Italy on Sunday under investigation of allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman, Italian news media said, quoting local prosecutors.
Haggis, 69, has been in Italy for a 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 other Italian media, carried a written statement from prosecutors in the nearby city of Brindisi that they were investigating allegations a “young foreign woman” was forced to have “non-consensual” sexual relations over two days.
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 relations.
After a couple of 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.”
The Brindisi prosecutors’ office was closed on Sunday. Haggis’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors said airport staff and police noticed her “obvious confused state” and after lending 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 whether Haggis was being held at the police station or at a hotel or other lodging.
Prosecutors also were quoted as saying that the woman “formalized her complaint and cited circumstances which were subsequently looked into for confirmation by investigators.”
They didn’t cite her nationality or age.
Haggis won an Oscar in 2006 for best original screenplay for “Crash.”
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.
“There is plenty of reason to worry about defending anyone accused of sexual assault in today’s climate. But the fear of consequences for speaking our truth has not held us back in the past and isn’t about to start now,” they wrote. “We have supported victims of sexual abuse who have reached out to us and have worked with them and law enforcement to ensure justice is done for both victims and the accused. We have avoided trial by media.”
In their post, they defended Haggis’ character and suggested the Church of Scientology is behind the three additional accusers that are “suddenly appearing out of the woodwork.”
“We expect the next ‘revelations’ about Paul Haggis in this campaign to destroy him to be based on information culled from his Scientology files in the form of more ‘anonymous’ accusers, hiding behind a lawyer who will never have to disclose who is paying their bill.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.