Paul Haggis sexual assault case dropped by Italian court

A judge in the southern Italian city of Lecce has ruled there is no reason to continue investigations into allegations that Oscar-winning Canadian director Paul Haggis had sex with a young woman without her consent.

The court ruled in favor of haggis late Friday, Italian news agency ANSA reported on Saturday.

“After reviewing the evidence and hearing the arguments of both sides, the District Court of Lecce, a three-judge appellate court, unanimously dismissed a prosecutor’s appeal for the reinstatement of Haggis’ house arrest,” Michele Laforgia, Haggis’ Italian lawyer, said in a statement released on Saturday.

Haggis, who won two Oscars for “Crash” and is also known for writing “Million Dollar Baby,” was arrested June 19 in Ostuni, a town in the southern region of Puglia on the heel of Italy’s boot, on allegations of a sexual assault , allegedly inflicted on a 28-year-old British woman over the course of two days in June.

The 69-year-old director spent 16 days under house arrest in a hotel before being released from custody.

“Two weeks ago, Judge Vilma Gilli of the Brindisi Court questioned the alleged victim and then immediately lifted Haggis’ house arrest,” Laforgia said in the statement.

The Brindisi prosecutor appealed her decision to the Lecce court, where Haggis’ lawyer presented what he believed to be “irrefutable and objective evidence that the woman told investigators and the court several lies, ignoring facts and Witnesses totally contradict their story”. added the lawyer.

There was no immediate comment from the alleged victim’s legal department.

Laforgia explained that Haggis’ arrest was the result of a miscarriage of justice and that prosecutors must now drop the case based on the evidence. This is expected to happen in the coming weeks barring new evidence.

On Friday evening, the Lecce court contacted lawyers for both parties to inform them of the court’s decision to dismiss the prosecutor’s appeal and uphold Judge Gilli’s decision. Four judges have now ruled in favor of haggis.

“In the coming weeks, the reasons for the decision will be known and with it the fate of the pending court cases in Italy,” Laforgia noted in the statement.

Haggis is also facing a court case in the United States, where he is being sued by film publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges Haggis raped her in January 2013. Breest originally filed the lawsuit in December 2017, although proceedings were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A trial date has now been set for October 11 in Manhattan. Haggis says the encounter with Breest, which is said to have taken place after a premiere, was consensual. Paul Haggis sexual assault case dropped by Italian court

Charles Jones

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