Italian Judges Reject Prosecutor’s Request to Re-Detain Paul Haggis In Sexual Assault Case

While the investigation into the charges of sexual assault against Canadian director Paul Haggis is ongoing, Italian judges have denied a request by state prosecutors to re-detain him.

Lecce, a city in southern Italy, appeals court judges Livia Orlando and Gualberto Buccarelli overturned the motion, according to local news agency Ansa over the weekend.

The Oscar-winning Crash filmmaker was first detained on June 19 while taking part in a cultural event in Ostuni, a town close to the port city of Brindisi, on the heels of a young woman, apparently of British descent, accusing him of sexual assault.

She said that between June 12 and 15, over the period of three days, the director had repeatedly assaulted her sexually.

The woman was invited to travel to Ostuni with the director after their initial encounter at the Monte Carlo Film Festival in April.

Haggis vehemently refutes the accusations. He said that inviting a stranger to join him was his biggest error in a mid-July interview with the Italian publication La Repubblica.

Haggis was initially detained and then given house arrest.

Judge Wilma Gilli, who presided over preliminary investigations, ordered the measure to be lifted on July 4 because Haggis did not constitute a threat.

Prosecutors moved right away to have Haggis placed back in custody.

While the investigation is ongoing, Haggis hasn’t tried to leave Italy and has stayed in the Ostuni region.

Following the Lecce decision, his Italian attorney Michele Laforgia issued a statement in which he stated that he anticipated the matter will be dismissed soon.

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The Italian judiciary and prosecutors have not yet commented on whether or not this will be the case. Prosecutors will probably seek for the case to go to trial after requesting his re-arrest. But Gilli will make the final decision and may potentially find that there are not enough grounds for a full trial.

It frequently takes months or even years for disputes to be resolved due to Italy’s notoriously protracted legal systems and numerous appeals.

The accusations come at a delicate moment for Haggis who is involved in a legal dispute in New York as a result of a civil lawsuit Haleigh Breest filed in 2017 accusing the filmmaker of raping her after they met at a party in 2013. Breest has accused Haggis of rape after they met in 2013.

Due to a backlog with Covid, a trial date has not yet been scheduled. Since Breest made her allegations public, four more women have done the same.

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