30 Jun 2022

Judge in Italy extends hotel detention for director Haggis, reports say

Judge in Italy extends hotel detention for director Haggis, reports say

A judge in southern Italy ordered film director Paul Haggis to remain under detention at his hotel while prosecutors continue to investigate a woman’s allegations that he had sex with her without her consent, Italian news reports said.

After conducting a hearing that lasted several hours in the Brindisi courthouse, Judge Vilma Gilli issued the ruling that extends his detention for now in the hotel in the town of Ostuni, where he was supposed to participate in an arts festival this week, Corriere della Sera daily reported.

The Ansa and LaPresse news agencies said Judge Villi had concluded that while 69-year-old Haggis, who lives in the United States, is not a flight risk, there was the “danger” evidence could be compromised or that the alleged crime could be repeated.

Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, said after the hearing that his client reiterated his total innocence and is in “hopeful expectation” that he will be ultimately vindicated.

“Paul Haggis answered all questions and explained what happened,” Mr Laforgia told reporters outside the courthouse.

“He declared himself, as he had already done right after the detention, completely innocent, in the sense that the sex he had with this woman was totally consensual.”

While the woman’s allegations are investigated, the Canadian-born director, producer and screenwriter was initially ordered on Sunday to stay detained in his guest residence in a farmhouse in Ostuni, a popular tourist town in Puglia, the region forming the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.

Prosecutors have said he is under investigation for alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.

Prosecutors have described the woman as young and foreign. State TV and other Italian media said she is a 30-year-old Englishwoman who had known Haggis before he came to Ostuni to participate in an arts festival that began this week.

Haggis co-wrote, directed and produced Crash, which won the 2006 Academy Awards for best picture and best screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby, another Oscar winner.

He has had legal problems in recent years stemming from sexual misconduct accusations by four women in the United States.

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