Posted: July 6, 2022, 7:31 a.m.
Last update: July 6, 2022, 8:18 a.m.
Paul Haggis is a free man, to a certain extent. 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 under house arrest.
Haggis has been under house arrest in Italy since June 19. He allegedly sexually abused a woman, an acquaintance of his, in his hotel room for several days. That’s before dropping her bluntly at an airport. The trial is now underway.
As he responds to the charges, Haggis will no longer be confined to his hotel room. The judge hearing the case decided to lift the house arrest order after a first testimony, confirmed his lawyer, Michele Laforgia. The testimony cast doubt on the allegations.
Italian media Corriere della Sera reports that Brindisi District Court Judge Vilma Gilli has revoked the injunction imposed on Haggis 16 days ago. “He’s a free man,” his defense said. The Canadian director and screenwriter won an Oscar for the 2005 film Accident. He also wrote the screenplay for the 2004 film Million dollar baby and 2006 Casino Royaleamong others.
Not a risk of leakage
Haggis was placed under house arrest in a hotel in the southern Italian city of Ostuni. Police arrested him on June 19 following a report that he sexually abused a 28-year-old British woman between June 12 and June 15.
Last Thursday, the alleged victim testified for more than eight hours and confirmed what was argued in his complaint. She confirmed that Haggis abused her for several days, holding her against her will.
Despite this, the judge, accepting the appeal that the defense presented on June 30, considered that there was no reason to keep him locked up. Due to his status, Haggis stayed in a hotel, not a jail cell. However, he can now roam freely as the case progresses.
Haggis has always defended his innocence. He also plans to stay in Italy until everything is clarified in court, his lawyer said. However, the lawyer added that he did not know if his client intended to leave the country and return later.
Lack of evidence
The filmmaker is facing allegations from Brindisi prosecutor Antonio Negro and his deputy, Livia Orlando, that he forced 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 condition.
Airport staff and customs police assisted the victim before accompanying him to file a complaint. They then took her to a hospital in Brindisi, which carried out a sexual abuse examination.
Based on that information, prosecutors say the “gathered evidence” showed that Haggis “forced the young woman…to have sex.” However, the allegations did not convince the judge.
Judge Gilli determined that there was no indication of “constrictive violent behavior” during the hospital examination. Moreover, according to the judge, there was no physical evidence that Haggis forced the woman to participate in any activity.
Following the judge’s decision, prosecutors may decide to drop the case. Haggis’ lawyer is “waiting to see” how they will react.