Canadian-born filmmaker and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who was arrested Sunday night in Italy on charges of sexual assault and grievous bodily harm, pleaded not guilty before a court on Wednesday.
Haggis, 69, appeared in court in the southern city of Ostuni, presenting his version of events through a lawyer after a British woman accused Haggis of sexually harassing her over several days last week.
” [sexual] the relationship he had with this woman was completely congruent during those three days spent together in Ostuni,” Haggis’ lawyer Michel LaForgia said. “Contrary to what the allegations suggest, there are no signs of injury and no signs of violence. I believe that the judge misinterpreted the report from the emergency room of the hospital where the young woman was seen following her complaint.”
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that authorities at Brindisi airport found the alleged victim in a dazed and “unstable mental and physical state” in the early hours of the morning after Haggis dropped her off. Airport workers contacted Brindisi State Police, where the woman filed a complaint about being raped by Haggis.
She was examined in the hospital according to the Italian “pink protocol” for victims of sexual violence.
Haggis has been under house arrest near Ostuni since Sunday evening, where police told CBC News he is with family members who were already in Italy prior to his arrest.
Haggis is currently awaiting a judge to rule on his arrest and his request to remain under house arrest rather than prison until what is known in Italy as an “evidence incident” when the accused and alleged victim are brought before a judge and may be cross-examined.
The judge will then decide whether to proceed with the trial or not.
Haggis film festival canceled
Born in London, Ontario, Haggis began working in episodic television in Hollywood in the 1980s. He won an Academy Award for just the second film he made, 2004. crashand scriptwriter for Clint Eastwood films. Million dollar baby as well as Flags of our fathersas well as James Bond films Casino Royale as well as quantum of solace.
The director was in a tourist town in the Puglia region of southern Italy in the shape of a heel to attend the Allora Film Festival, where he and his adult children were scheduled to perform and give workshops in filmmaking and screenwriting.
WATCH | Paul Haggis under house arrest in Italy (June 20):
Other notable celebrities have also performed at the festival, including Edward Norton, Alfre Woodard, Oliver Stone, Jeremy Irons, Jon Hamm, Matt Dillon and Marisa Tomei.
The festival was opened this year by the Italian journalist from Los Angeles Silvia Bizio and the Spanish art critic Saul Costales Doulton. The organizers, after the arrest, distanced themselves from Haggis, canceling all events with the participation of him and his children, and issued a statement in which they expressed “full solidarity with the woman involved in the case.”
Haggis has been accused of sexual assault by four other women in the US and one civil suit is still pending. If found guilty in Italy, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
The CBC sent messages to Bizio and Doulton asking them if they were aware of the US sexual harassment allegations against Haggis before inviting him to the festival. Nobody answered.
Before the festival, Haggis was hired to make a promotional film for the city of Mesagna in Puglia, which will be the European Capital of Culture for 2024.
Haggis is not the only once-famous Hollywood director or star who has been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment or harassment and has been invited to head a festival or work in Italy. Kevin Spacey has performed, acted in films and taken part in festivals in Italy, despite numerous allegations of sexual harassment.