Paul Haggis spoke out this week for the first time since his arrest in Italy last month, and denied all accusations of sexual assault. In an interview with an Italian newspaper, the Oscar-winning “Crash” director actively sought to discredit the women accusing him, saying the latest one seemed “rehearsed” in her account.
The “Million Dollar Baby” writer was arrested in late June on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury. The 70-year-old was accused by an unidentified woman of forcing her to have sex with him over two days in the town of Ostuni.
In a new interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica this week, Haggis said he’d “rather not talk about the woman who made these accusations” but did criticize her for choosing to remain anonymous. The director also disputed her claims that he left her at a Brindisi airport early in the morning “despite her precarious physical and psychological conditions.”
“I see no plausible reason why any person who is genuinely interested in a relationship wouldn’t use her real name,” Haggis said. “During her interview, she appeared well prepared and rehearsed, not fragile or subjugated, as she claimed.”
Haggis doubled down on his claim that anything that happened between him and the woman was consensual, but added that he does feel he made mistakes in the situation, including his choice to take her to said airport.
“As I told the judge, my first mistake was allowing someone who I hardly knew to come and visit me,” he said. “It was foolish. The second mistake was on the last morning after an incident occurred that I personally found particularly unpleasant, I decided to end this situation; I took this person to the airport hours before her flight. I’m upset with myself for these errors in judgment but cannot comprehend that they resulted in false and damaging accusations against me.”
During the interview, the reporter also pointed out the sexual assault claims he faces from a separate woman back in the states, asking Haggis if it’s “possible you have a problem with women.” At that, Haggis argued that he has known many women over his career, and none of them have come forward with accusations of any kind, so that must mean he does not.
“I have been working in theatre, television and film for over 40 years, and have collaborated with quite literally thousands of women over that time,” he said. “I was married twice, for twelve years each, and have a son and three great daughters, two of whom are married to incredible women. I have had relationships and great friendships with dozens of women. Not one woman has ever gone to the police or a prosecutor with a complaint about me, in any country. No, I most certainly don’t have a problem with women.”
Haggis was released from detention in Italy last week as authorities continue to investigate the alleged incident.