A judge on Wednesday ordered Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis to be held in a hotel in southern Italy while Italian prosecutors investigate allegations of a woman who claims to have been sexually abused by the director over two days, according to Italian media.
After holding a hearing that lasted several hours in the Brindisi court, Judge Vilma Gilli issued the ruling that extended Haggis’s detention at his guest residence on a farm in Ostuni, a tourist town where he was supposed to participate in a arts festival this week, the daily Corriere della Sera reported.
The Associated Press tried call Gilli’s office for more information, but no one responded on Wednesday night.
The Ansa and LaPresse news agencies said Gilli concluded that while Haggis, a 69-year-old Canadian living in the United States, is not a flight risk, there is a “danger” that the evidence could be compromised or that the alleged crime is repeated.
Haggis’ attorney, Michele Laforgia, said after the hearing that his client reiterated his total innocence and he is hopeful that he will finally be vindicated.
“Paul Haggis answered all the questions and explained what happened,” Laforgia told reporters outside the courthouse. “He declared himself, as he did immediately after his arrestcompletely innocent, in the sense that the sex he had with this woman was totally consensual.”
While the woman’s allegations are investigated, the 69-year-old Canadian director, producer and screenwriter was ordered Sunday to be detained at his guest residence on an estate in Ostuni, a popular tourist town in Puglia, the “heel” region. of the boot that forms the Italian peninsula.
Prosecutors have said that The director is being investigated for alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injury. They did not comment after the hearing, which lasted several hours.
Prosecutors have described the woman as a young foreigner. State television and other Italian media said she is a 30-year-old English woman who knew Haggis before going to Ostuni to take part in an arts festival that started this week.
When asked by a reporter what kind of relationship Haggis and the woman had, Laforgia replied that they were “acquaintances.”
The lawyer said that the defense questions a hospital report indicating that the woman suffered physical injuries.
“There is no sign of injury, there is no sign of violence,” Laforgia said. “I think they (the investigators) misinterpreted what they found in the emergency room” of a Brindisi hospital where the woman was taken when she told authorities that she had been sexually abused.
Haggis co-wrote, directed and produced “Crash” (“High Impact”), which won at 2006 Academy Award for Best Picture and best script. He also wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby” (“Strokes of Fate”), another Oscar-winning film.
In recent years he has had problems with allegations of sexual misconduct made by four women in the United States.
On Sunday, shortly after Italian prosecutors announced the investigation and arrest of Haggis, attorney Priya Chaudhry, who litigates in the United States, told the AP that although she could not discuss the evidence under Italian law, she was confident. in “that all Charges against Mr. Haggis will be dismissed. He is completely innocent and is willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so that the truth comes to light quickly.”
Since Haggis does not speak Italian, he submitted his written statements in English to the court during the hearing. The translation during the hearing extended its duration, Laforgia said.