Judge in Italy ends detention for Haggis in sex abuse case

A judge in southern Italy has ruled that film director Paul Haggis should be released from detention at his hotel while prosecutors continue to investigate sex abuse allegations

Italy Haggis Detained
Italy Haggis Detained

A judge in southern Italy on Monday ordered film director Paul Haggis released from detention at his hotel while prosecutors decide whether to pursue their investigation of whether he allegedly had sex with a woman without her consent over two days, his lawyer said.

Michele Laforgia told The Associated Press that his client, who is also a screenwriter and an Academy Award winner, that Haggis was still in Italy. The ruling was made by Judge Vilma Gilli, based in Puglia, which is the region that forms the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.

The Canada-born Haggis, 69, was detained by police on June 19 in Puglia after a woman told authorities that he had non-consensual sex with her over two days while he was in Italy to participate in an arts festival in the tourist town of Ostuni.

He had proclaimed his innocence, according to the lawyer.

Laforgia said in text messages that the judge had ruled there were neither signs of violence nor abuse found on the woman, who prosecutors have described as young and foreign and by Italian media as a 28-year-old Englishwoman.

The courthouse was closed Monday evening and Gilli couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Corriere della Sera, quoting from the judge's ruling, said she concluded there was an “absence of constrictive violent behavior” by Haggis. The judge also noted in the ruling that the woman's decision to be with Haggis in his lodgings was “spontaneous,” the Italian daily said.

It was Gilli who on June 22, after a closed door hearing, had ordered Haggis to remain in detention while the investigation continued.

Prosecutors didn't immediately say if they would move to drop the investigation or pursue it after the judge's ruling.

Asked if the case might be closed, Laforgia replied “let's see what the prosecutor's office will do at this point.”

Haggis, who resides in the United States, has had other legal problems. In recent years, four women in the United States have alleged sexual misconduct by him.

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