Canadian-born director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who was arrested Sunday night in Italy on charges of sexual assault and pitiful bodily harm, pleaded not guilty to a judge on Wednesday.
Haggis, 69, appeared in court in the southern town of Ostuni, presenting her version of events through a lawyer after a British woman accused Haggis of sexually assaulting her over the course of several days last week. .
“The [sexual] Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, said his relationship with the woman was consensual during his three days in Ostuni. I believe the judge misinterpreted the report from the emergency room of the hospital where the young girl was examined after the complaint. ”
A statement from prosecutors said authorities at Brindisi airport found the victim believed to be in a state of shock and a “precarious psychological and physical state” early in the morning after Haggis’s release. she down. Airport officials contacted Brindisi state police, with whom the woman had filed a report of being raped by Haggis.
She was examined at the hospital according to Italy’s “pink protocol” for victims of sexual assault.
Haggis has been under house arrest near Ostuni since Sunday night, where police told CBC News he was staying with family members who had been in Italy before his arrest.
Haggis is now waiting for a judge to rule on his arrest and order him to be placed under house arrest, rather than jail, until what is known in Italy as “an evidentiary incident”, when arrested. The accused and the alleged victim appear before the judge and may be cross-examined.
A judge will then decide whether to proceed with the trial.
Film festival event featuring Haggis canceled
Born in London, Ont., Haggis began working in Hollywood serials in the 1980s. He won an Academy Award for just his second feature film he directed. acting, 2004 Accidentand has screenwriting credit for Clint Eastwood’s films Million dollar baby and Flag of our Patriarchas well as James Bond movies Casino Royale and Level of comfort.
The director traveled to the tourist town of Puglia, southern Italy for the Allora film festival, where he and his grown children were scheduled to speak and lead master classes on film filmmaker and screenwriter.
VIEW | Paul Haggis under house arrest in Italy (June 20):
Other celebrities, including Edward Norton, Alfre Woodard, Oliver Stone, Jeremy Irons, Jon Hamm, Matt Dillon and Marisa Tomei made appearances at the festival.
The festival was launched this year by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton. Organizers following the arrest split from Haggis, canceled all events involving him and his children, and released a statement expressing “complete solidarity with the woman involved. regarding this matter.”
Haggis has been accused of sexual assault by four other women in the US, with a civil lawsuit still pending. If convicted in Italy, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
The CBC sent messages to Bizio and Doulton asking if they were aware of allegations of sexual assault in the US against Haggis before inviting him to the festival. No reply.
Before the festival, Haggis was hired to direct a promotional film for the town of Mesagne in Puglia, which will be Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2024.
Haggis is not a once famous Hollywood director or star with multiple allegations of sexual assault or harassment against him in order to be invited to a festival or production in Italy. Kevin Spacey has performed, filmed and attended festivals in Italy despite numerous allegations of sexual harassment.