Italian judge orders release of Paul Haggis from house arrest in sex abuse case – Deadline

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UPDATE, 2:00 PM: An Italian judge on Monday ordered the release of director Paul Haggis from house arrest while prosecutors decide to continue their investigation into sexual assault allegations against him, reports the Associated Press.

Haggis had been in police custody at a hotel in southern Italy since June 19 following allegations from an unnamed British woman that he had non-consensual sex with her for two days while he was in Italy to participate in an arts festival in the tourist town of Ostuni.

Haggis has maintained his innocence, according to his lawyer.

PREVIOUS, June 22: An Italian investigative judge ruled on Wednesday that director Paul Haggis will remain under house arrest amid ongoing investigations into sexual assault allegations against him.

Haggis, the Canadian director whose Accident won the Best Picture Oscar in 2006, has been detained by police at a hotel in the town of Ostuni, just outside the southern Italian port city of Brindisi, since Sunday at following allegations by an unnamed Briton that he subjected her to non-consensual sex over the course of a number of days.

Local magistrate Vilma Gilli made the decision to extend her house arrest today after a three-hour preliminary hearing with Haggis and his Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia in Brindisi on Wednesday morning. She ruled out the director’s detention in prison, saying there was little danger of him attempting to escape.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing this morning, Laforgia said Haggis had declared his “complete innocence” and reiterated that any relationship with the woman had been consensual.

He added that the director had cooperated fully with the Italian authorities and had no intention of leaving the country until his name was cleared.

The next step in the process will be a pre-trial special evidence hearing out of court, the date of which has yet to be set.

Haggis was in southern Italy to attend the Allora film festival in Ostuni, where he was to give a masterclass.

According to local media, he first met his accuser at a film festival in Monte Carlo in April and has been in regular contact with her since then, culminating in the invitation to join him at the of the trip to Italy.

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