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London’s Paul Haggis Park could get name change

Paul Haggis poses in front of the Paul Haggis Park sign Jan. 20, 2017.
Paul Haggis poses in front of the Paul Haggis Park sign Jan. 20, 2017. Instagram.com/paulhaggis

Paul Haggis Park could soon have a new name.

Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih says it would send the wrong message to women if London were to continue to name a park after the London-born Oscar winner.

“I couldn’t imagine being a young woman or a young girl, showing up to this park and having these questions about an individual and having to be at this park,” he said.

Four women have accused Haggis of sexual misconduct. Two say they were raped.

READ MORE: Paul Haggis, Canadian director, accused by 4 women of sexual misconduct, 2 rapes

A civil lawsuit filed by Haleigh Breest on Dec. 15 in Manhattan prompted three additional women to come forward with their own sexual misconduct accusations. Breest was identified in the court papers filed last month.

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The four women say the sexual harassment and assaults happened between 1996 and 2015. None of the accusations has been proven in court and no criminal charges have been laid.

Haggis, 64, is a Londoner turned Hollywood director behind the award-winning films Million Dollar Baby and Crash.

The south London park, located on Bateman Trail near White Oak Road and Bradley Avenue, has one baseball diamond and one soccer field. It was named after Haggis in 2011.

READ MORE: Albert Schultz resigns from Soulpepper Theatre Company amid sexual assault allegations

Haggis visited the park last year, posting a picture of himself at the park on social media.

“Having a park named after you is really a privilege, it’s not a right. No one is guaranteed to have a park named after them,” said Salih.

Haggis has stayed connected to his hometown through his work. His production company is called Blackfriars Bridge Films, which includes a logo of the iconic London bridge. Ten years ago he created a series called The Black Donnellys about a family of Irish brothers. The TV show was inspired by the real-life story of the Donnelly family.

On Feb. 4, 1880, an angry mob killed five members of the family at their home near Lucan, north of London. The Donnelly family, who were originally from Ireland, had a long-running feud with other locals. While the TV series was inspired by the real-life tale, it didn’t tell the story of the Lucan Donnelly family.

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READ MORE: Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns amid allegations

London city council has the power to change the name of a park in the city. Salih says he’s considering his options on how to change the name of the park.

“I think this is something that needs to change, I don’t think it’s appropriate at this time.”

Haggis recently resigned as the chairman of the board of the non-profit organization Artists for Peace and Justice that he set up in 2009. The non-profit helps those in poverty in Haiti with education and medical care.

Susan Sarandon and Ben Stiller have been appointed as the new board co-chairs.

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