Paul Haggis says he made mistakes in Italian sexual harassment case

Director Paul Haggis speaks out against the backdrop of an ongoing sexual assault case in Italy as prosecutors there try to get him back under house arrest.

Noting the “lack of deterrent violent behaviour”, a judge in the Italian city of Brindisi last week released the director of “Accident” after a 16-day detention at his hotel, where Haggis was at a film festival. The two-time Oscar winner recently gave a sweeping interview to an Italian publication. la republicproclaiming his innocence and discussing the professional implications of the charges brought against him in the US and abroad.

“The accusation of sexual assault, which I did not do, was devastating and I hope that no innocent person ever experiences this,” Haggis said in a translated interview that the Italian publication published on Tuesday.

The 69-year-old also admitted to making the mistakes from which the charges stem. According to Italian media reports, a 30-year-old English woman who knew Haggis before going to a film festival claimed that he forced her to have sex with him for two days at a bed and breakfast in Puglia and then dropped her off at a nearby airport while she was in a state of confusion.

“Like I told the judge, my first mistake was letting someone I barely knew come and visit me. It was stupid,” Haggis said. “The second mistake was on the last morning after the incident, which personally seemed to me especially unpleasant, I decided to end this situation; I took this woman to the airport a few hours before her flight. I am angry with myself for these errors in judgment, but I cannot understand why they have led to false and harmful accusations against me.”

Haggis claimed that he was never charged with a crime and no woman filed criminal complaints against him. He also said he waited five years to clear his name in the US after civil suit for rape but lamented that the case was considered a precedent against him in Italy, even though it had not yet been heard in a US court.

“I am still the only one who can ask any prosecutor to investigate,” he said. “As for my job, five years later, I recently got two jobs as a screenwriter. When I was arrested in Italy, I lost both.”

When a reporter compared Haggis’s personal and professional problems to a “bad script,” Haggis responded, “In fiction, you only know a character’s heart when you put terrible pressure on it. I believe this is just as true in life. I always tried to behave with dignity, not to speak out and not to defend myself. I will rely on the courts for the truth and for justice to be served.”

Diversity On Tuesday, it was reported that prosecutors and lawyers for the alleged victim filed an appeal against Judge’s decision to release Haggis out of custody, a decision taken last week during a pre-trial hearing in which Haggis came face to face with his accuser.

Asked if he thought there might be a connection between his high-profile departure from the Church of Scientology in 2009 and “what happened” to him since then, the director didn’t rule it out entirely.

“In this case, I don’t have proof yet, but from what I’ve learned from dealing with Scientology, they are capable of absolutely anything. If you oppose them, they will use any means to destroy your reputation, career and family, ”Haggis argued.

“They call this ruthless tactic ‘fair play. You can ask people who know more than me, for example [former Scientology spokesman] Mike Rinderwho for years ran what they call Scientology’s “black ops” or one of the dedicated and courageous journalists like Brian Seymour who have devoted their careers to investigating this dangerous cult,” he added.

Haggis was an outspoken critic of the church. In 2015, he appeared in the documentary Going Clean: Scientology and the Prison of Faith and the 2016 documentary series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, and criticized the organization in The New Yorker.

Karin Pou, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, dismissed Haggis’ comments on Tuesday.

“All along, Paul Haggis has been a game: he is accused of rape and horrific sexual harassment by five different women, he refuses to take responsibility for his actions and instead shirks, using the press to falsely blame the church and shame his intended victims. with false and slanderous rhetoric,” Pau said in an email to The Times.

haggis stand trial in New York in October in a separate case involving the allegations of a film publicist in 2017. Haley Brestwho claimed that Haggis raped her in his New York apartment in 2013. Haggis denied the lawsuit and sued Brest, accusing her and her lawyer of trying to extort $9 million in “hush money”.