Paul Haggis Released From House Arrest in Italy Amid Sexual Assault Investigation
Paul Haggis has been released from house arrest in Italy after being charged with sexual assault, an Italian judge has ruled. The Crash director will remain in Italy while prosecutors determine whether they will continue an investigation into the sexual assault charges against him.
Haggis was placed in custody at a hotel in southern Italy in late June after he was detained and arrested following an accusation of repeated sexual assault and aggravated personal injury by an unnamed woman. He remained on house arrest for 16 days. Haggis said his sexual encounters with the woman were consensual.
According to Italian news agency ANSA, Judge Vilma Gilli shared that the victim’s account of the allegations “revealed a complex affair that negates the original judgment contained in the warrant.” The ruling to end the director’s detainment made note of an “absence of constricting violent behavior.”
Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, told Variety “The revocation order by the judge for preliminary investigations acknowledges not only the absence of any precautionary needs but also excludes ‘any violent or otherwise coercive conduct’ by Paul Haggis.”
He added: “We are confident that in an equally short time it will be possible to definitively clarify that Haggis did not commit any crime and he is completely innocent of this terrible accusation, as we have always said.”
Early in the investigation, prosecutors said the alleged victim woman was dropped off at a nearby airport on Sunday morning following an alleged encounter with Haggis that lasted two days. Airport police and staff said they found the woman in “precarious physical and psychological conditions” and in a “confused state.” The woman was taken to a nearby hospital where she was examined and later told authorities of the sexual assault and filed formal charges.
Haggis was placed on house arrest, according to Leforgia, under the belief that “pending the hearing of the alleged victim, there is a risk of evidence-tampering of the only source of evidence which she deems necessary to submit to further checks and findings.”
In late 2017 and early 2018, several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Haggis, including publicist Haleigh Breest, who filed a civil lawsuit against the Million Dollar Baby screenwriter. Following Breest’s lawsuit, three more women came forward with accusations against Haggis.