Canadian screenwriter-director Paul Haggis, who is known for his work in ‘Million Dollar Baby’, ‘Crash’ and ‘Casino Royale‘ has got a relief in the non-consensual s*x case.
A judge in the southern Italian city of Lecce has ruled that there are no grounds to further pursue an investigation into allegations that the Oscar-winning director had s*x without the consent of the young girl, reports ‘Variety’.
Haggis’ lawyer Michele Laforgia in a statement accessed by ‘Variety’ said, “After viewing the evidence and hearing arguments from both sides, the District Court of Lecce, an appellate court with three judges, unanimously rejected a prosecutor’s appeal to have Haggis’ house arrest reinstated.”
Haggis was arrested on June 19 in Ostuni, a location in the southern region of Puglia on the heel of the Italian boot, on charges of sexual assault allegedly inflicted on a 28-year British woman over the course of two days in June.
According to ‘Variety’, the 69-year-old director spent 16 days under house arrest in a hotel, before being released from detention.
Laforgia further mentioned in the statement, “Two weeks ago, Judge Vilma Gilli of the Court of Brindisi questioned the alleged victim and then immediately overturned Haggis’ house arrest.”
The Prosecutor of Brindisi appealed her decision to the Court of Lecce, where Haggis’ lawyer presented what he says is “irrefutable and objective evidence that the woman told multiple lies to investigators and the court, with facts and witnesses completely contradicting her story”.
‘Variety’ further states that there was no immediate comment from the alleged victim’s legal team.
Laforgia stated that Haggis’ arrest was the result of a judicial error and, based on the evidence, the prosecutors must now close the case. This is expected to happen in the coming weeks unless new evidence surfaces.
The Court of Lecce contacted attorneys for both parties to inform them of the court’s decision, rejecting the public prosecutor’s appeal and confirming the decision made by judge Gilli. Four judges have now ruled in favour of Haggis.
Haggis is also facing court proceedings in the US where he is being sued by film publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges that Haggis raped her in January 2013.
Breest originally filed suit 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 allegedly took place after a premiere, was consensual.