Paul Haggis is a free man, to a certain degree. The Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter involved in Casino Royale, Crash and other Hollywood films is still responding to allegations of sexual abuse charges, but is no longer on house arrest.
Haggis has been under house arrest in Italy since June 19. He allegedly abused a woman, an acquaintance of his, sexually in his hotel room for several days before unceremoniously dropping her off at an airport and the trial is now underway.
As he responds to the accusations, Haggis will no longer be confined to his hotel room. The judge hearing the case decided to lift the house arrest order following initial testimony, his lawyer, Michele Laforgia, confirmed. The testimony cast doubt over the allegations.
Not a Flight Risk
Italian media outlet Corriere della Sera reports that Brindisi Court Judge Vilma Gilli revoked the injunction imposed on Haggis sixteen days ago and now “he is a free man,” his defense said. The Canadian director and screenwriter won an Oscar for the 2005 film “Crash.” He also authored the screenplay for the 2004 film “Million Dollar Baby” and “Casino Royale” in 2006, among others.
Haggis has been on house arrest in a hotel in the southern Italian city of Ostuni. Police picked him up on June 19 following a report that he sexually abused a 28-year-old British woman between June 12 and 15.
Last Thursday, the alleged victim testified for more than eight hours and confirmed what was maintained in her complaint. She confirmed that Haggis had subjected her to abuse for several days, holding her against her will.
Despite this, the judge, accepting the appeal the defense presented on June 30, has considered that there are no reasons to keep him locked up. Because of his status, Haggis remained in a hotel and not a jail cell. However, he can now freely move around as the case continues.
Haggis has at all times defended his innocence. He also plans on remaining in Italy until everything is clarified in court, said his lawyer. However, the attorney added that he does not know if his client intends on leaving the country and returning later.
Lack of Evidence
The filmmaker faces allegations by Brindisi’s prosecutor, Antonio Negro, and his deputy, Livia Orlando, of allegedly forcing the woman to have sex for more than two days. He then allegedly abandoned her at the city’s airport despite the fact that she was in a weakened physical state.
Airport staff and customs police provided assistance to the victim before accompanying her to file the complaint. They later took her to a hospital in Brindisi, which conducted a sexual violence examination.
Based on that information, prosecutors claim that the “elements collected” showed that Haggis “forced the young woman … to have sexual relations.” However, the allegations didn’t convince the judge.
Judge Gilli determined that there was no indication of “constrictive violent behavior” in the hospital examination. In addition, according to the judge, there was no physical evidence that Haggis forced the woman to participate in any activity.
As a result of the judge’s decision, it’s possible that prosecutors will decide to drop the case. Haggis’s lawyer is “waiting to see” how they respond.
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