Canadian director and screenwriter Paul Haggis will remain under house arrest in Italy while prosecutors investigate the alleged sexual abuse of a woman for two days.
After appearing in Brindisi court with her Italian lawyer on Wednesday for an hour-long hearing in which she denied allegations of sexual violence and aggravated bodily harm and said the sexual encounter was consensual, the judge ruled to continue his detention in a hotel in the nearby town of Ostuni, in the Puglia region, where he was to take part in the “Allora Fest” artistic festival.
The other options were to release him during the investigation or send him to prison.
Arrested on Sunday, Haggis is accused by the authorities of having forced a young foreign woman to have sex for two days, then of having abandoned her at Papola Casale airport, near Brindisi, despite the physical and psychological conditions. “precarious” that he was.
The woman was assisted by airport agents and customs police, after being taken to Brindisi hospital, where the protocol for cases of victims of sexual violence was activated, EFE reported. .
“According to the information collected, the investigation would have forced the young woman, known to him for a long time, to have sexual relations”, specify the authorities.
Prosecutors described the woman as young and foreign. State TV and other Italian outlets say she is 30, English and allegedly met Haggis before the producer traveled to Ostuni to take part in the arts festival.
Before the judge’s decision was known, the filmmaker’s lawyer told the Variety Magazine that he “made a lengthy written statement and then answered all questions, reconstructing day by day – and in some cases hour by hour – what transpired during the three days he spent in the company of this woman in Ostuni”.
“The relationship he had with this woman is completely consensual,” said Michèle Laforgia, who added that “contrary to what is supposed to be present in the accusations”. [contra Haggis]there are no injuries and no signs of violence” in the medical report issued by the Brindisi hospital where the alleged victim was taken on Sunday.
The director also “declared his desire to stay in Italy until his total innocence is definitively proven”.
Paul Haggis, 69, winner of two Oscars for the film “Collision” and author of titles such as “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) or “Casino Royale” (2006), was accused in January 2018 by four women in the States States of episodes ranging from sexual assault to harassment or rape, following a complaint filed in New York by publicist Haleigh Breest.
Haggis has denied all of these allegations and his ex-wife has publicly supported him. The trial is still ongoing due to delays related to COVID-19.