Paul Haggis appeared in court in Italy amidst the sexual assault allegation that arose during his participation in the Allora Fest film event. As previously reported, a woman accused Haggis of forcing her to “undergo sexual intercourse over the course of two days” before leaving her at the Papola Casale airport with “precarious physical and psychological conditions.”
On Wednesday, Judge Vilma Gilli ruled that Haggis remain under detention at his hotel as the investigation into the assault continues, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The filmmaker reportedly hasn’t been deemed a flight risk, but “there was the ‘danger’ evidence could be compromised or that the alleged crime could be repeated.”
Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, addressed reporters outside the courthouse, saying that his client was in “hopeful expectation” that he will be vindicated. “Paul Haggis answered all questions and explained what happened,” Laforgia said. “He declared himself, as he had already done right after the detention, completely innocent, in the sense that the sex he had with this woman was totally consensual.”
According to Variety, Italian outlets have identified the accuser as a “British woman who is considerably younger than the 69-year-old filmmaker.” The pair first met at the Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival and exchanged messages before the alleged assault took place. The prosecutors’ statement reportedly said that the woman was “‘forced to seek medical care’ due to injuries that are consistent with her allegations of sexual assault.”
However, Laforgia said in a statement to Variety that “contrary to what is assumed to be present in the charges [against Haggis] there is no injury and no sign of violence” in the medical report issued by the Brindisi hospital where the alleged victim was taken after being discovered alone in an “obvious confused state” at the airport.
Per Variety, Haggis (who has multiple other assault accusations against him) and his alleged victim are expected to be cross-examined at a special evidence pre-trial hearing, possibly sometime next week. The judge will then decide whether the case will go to trial.