Director Haggis appears in Italy court amid assault probe

Film director Paul Haggis is appearing in court in southern Italy amid a police investigation into a woman’s allegations he had sex with her without her consent over the course of two days

Film director Paul Haggis appeared in court in southern Italy on Wednesday amid a police investigation into a woman’s allegations he had sex with her without her consent over the course of two days.

Haggis, 69, made no comment as he arrived with Italian attorney Michele Laforgia at the courthouse in Brindisi, a port town in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of southeastern Italy. There was no sign that members of his family who were in Italy at the time joined him.

Prosecutors announced Sunday that police had detained the Canadian-born director, screenwriter and producer for investigation of alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.

State TV and other Italian media said the alleged victim is a 30-year-old Englishwoman who had known Haggis before he came to the tourist town of Ostuni to participate in an arts festival.

Haggis co-wrote, directed and produced “Crash,” which won the 2006 Academy Awards for best picture and best screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby," another Oscar winner.

He has had legal problems in recent years stemming from sexual misconduct accusations by four women in the United States.

In Italy, a judge, after hearing arguments from both prosecutors and defense lawyers, is expected to rule Wednesday on whether Haggis should be freed from custody pending possible additional investigation.

The judge could also decide to order him kept jailed or under house arrest.

Haggis’ U.S.-based attorney, Priya Chaudhry, told The Associated Press on Sunday that although she could not discuss the evidence under Italian law, “I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis. He is totally innocent, and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly.”

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