Italian judges reject prosecutor’s request to detain Paul Haggis again in sexual assault case

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Italian judges have rejected a request by prosecutors to re-detain Canadian director Paul Haggis, while the investigation into sexual assault allegations against him continues.

Local news agency Ansa reported last weekend that judges of the appeals court Livia Orlando and Gualberto Buccarelli in the southern Italian city of Lecce had rejected the request.

The Oscar-winning Crash The director was first arrested on June 19, while attending a culture festival in the town of Ostuni, near the port city of Brindisi, following allegations of sexual assault by a young woman, allegedly of British descent.

She claimed that the director sexually assaulted her repeatedly over the course of three days from June 12-15.

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They had first met at the Monte Carlo Film Festival in April, which led to the woman’s invitation to join the director in Ostuni.

Haggis strongly denies the allegations. In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in mid-July, he said his biggest mistake had been inviting someone he barely knew.

After being initially jailed, Haggis was placed under house arrest. Judge Wilma Gilli of the preliminary inquiry lifted the measure on July 4, saying it was not necessary because Haggis posed no threat.

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Prosecutors immediately tried to detain Haggis again.

Haggis remained in the Ostuni region during the investigation and made no attempt to leave Italy.

His Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia said in a statement following the Lecce ruling that he expected the case to be suspended in the coming days.

There has been no comment so far from prosecutors or the Italian judiciary as to whether this will be the case. After requesting his re-arrest, it is likely that prosecutors will push for a trial. But the decision rests with Gilli, who can also decide that there are insufficient grounds for a full trial.

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The Italian legal system is notorious for lengthy proceedings and multiple appeals, meaning cases can often take months or years to reach a final decision.

The allegations come at a sensitive time for Haggis, who is facing a lawsuit in New York, following a civil lawsuit filed in 2017 by event publicist Haleigh Breest, who accused the director of raping her after they met each other at a party in 2013. had met.

A trial date has yet to be determined due to a Covid-related backlog. Since Breest went public, four more women have made similar allegations.