A British woman has claimed she was subjected to a two-day rape ordeal by Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis as Italian police continue to probe the claims.
According to Mail Online, the 30-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was found in a confused state by airline staff at Brindisi airport in southern Italy early on Sunday morning.
She told police Haggis, who is in Italy for a film festival which is due to start on Tuesday, had kept her for 48 hours in a bed and breakfast and abused her before dumping her at the airport.
Haggis, 69, wrote the screenplays for the Daniel Craig blockbusters Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and he won an Oscar with his screenplay for the 2004 hit Crash.
On Sunday, Prosecutors in Brindisi, southeastern Italy, announced on that police had detained the Canadian-born director, screenwriter, and producer for investigation of alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated.
They described the alleged victim as a ‘young foreign woman.’
State TV and other Italian media said she is a 30-year-old Englishwoman who had known Haggis before he came to the tourist town of Ostuni to participate in an arts festival.
Haggis’s Italian lawyer was in court Monday morning on other matters and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Police called to the airport by staff tracked Haggis down at his hotel in Ostuni and he was questioned before being released and has been told not to leave the country ahead of a preliminary appearance before an investigating judge in nearby Brindisi.
The woman told police: ‘He dumped me at the airport after two days of abuse. I was here because we were supposed to be working together but instead he raped me.’
Police say the woman arrived in Italy last Wednesday and was found in the early hours of Sunday at the airport.
A staff member who found her told local media: ‘She was in a terrible state. She was curled in a ball and had tears down her face. She kept running her hands through her hair.
‘She could barely speak but I told her she was safe and nothing else would happen to her before asking what the matter was.
‘She said she had been raped in a hotel by man she knew well and said it was the director Paul Haggis and he had abandoned her at the airport.’
Local prosecutors Antonio Negro and Livia Orlando confirmed they were investigating an allegation of rape but said they would be unable to speak ahead of this week’s planned court appearance.
In a written statement on Sunday announcing that Haggis had been detained, prosecutors said that according to investigative elements gathered, Haggis allegedly ‘forced the young woman, known by him from some time ago, to submit to sexual relations.’
The statement also said that the woman was ‘forced to seek medical care,’.
The prosecutors added that after a couple of days of non-consensual relations, the woman was allegedly accompanied by Haggis to Brindisi airport and ‘was left there at dawn despite (her) precarious physical and psychological conditions.’
Airport staff and police noticed her ‘obvious confused state’ and took her to Brindisi’s police headquarters, where officers accompanied her to a local hospital for examination, the prosecutors said.
An investigating judge in Brindisi will have to decide if the evidence is strong enough for Haggis to be held in his hotel under house arrest or move him to a prison, ahead of a formal accusation.
Today his Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia told Mail Online: ‘Paul Haggis is currently in Ostuni, at his hotel residence, after being held by the police on orders of the Brindisi prosecutor.
‘We are waiting to hear when exactly the hearing before an investigating magistrate will take place but we expect it to be sometime this week and we will then present our version of events.
‘Mr. Haggis denies the accusations against him and he is completely innocent and hopes for a swift conclusion to the investigation which will clarify events.
‘Obviously, ahead of the hearing we cannot say anything and especially as we are awaiting full disclosure from the judicial authorities, we cannot enter into any further discussions.’
Police said Haggis was under house arrest at his hotel on suspicion of sexual violence and causing personal injury.