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Director Paul Haggis Released From Detention In Italy In Sex Assault Case As Judge Cites 'Absence Of Coercive Violent Conduct'

Prosecutors will now decide whether the case against Paul Haggis will move forward.

By Jill Sederstrom
Paul Haggis attends the production dinner of the movie “Lamborghini - The Legend”

Director Paul Haggis has been released from detention at an Italian hotel, where he had been held amid sexual assault allegations, while prosecutors decide whether to move forward with the case.

Judge Vilma Gilli ordered that Haggis, also an Academy-Award winning screenwriter, be released on Monday from the southern Italy hotel after determining that the alleged victim’s account of what happened “not only confirmed the absence of coercive violent conduct on the part of the accused but revealed a complex affair that negates the original judgment contained in the warrant,” according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Haggis was detained in Italy on June 19 after a woman told authorities he allegedly had “non-consensual relations” with her over a two-day period while he was in Ostuni for an arts festival, as previously reported by Oxygen.com.

Haggis, a Canadian-born screenwriter and director now living in the United States, remains in Italy while prosecutors determine whether they plan to move forward with the case against the 69-year-old, according to The Associated Press.

They did not immediately reveal their intentions after the judge’s ruling.

Haggis’ attorney Michele Laforgia described the judge’s ruling to Variety as an “important result” in the case.

“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,” Laforgia said. “It is an important result, which confirms the version offered from the very first moment by Haggis on the voluntary nature of the relationship he had with the complainant and shows how our procedural system is capable, in a short time, of remedying mistakes and restoring freedom to those who are entitled to it.”

Laforgia continued to proclaim Haggis’ innocence.

“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,” the attorney said.

Haggis served as screenwriter for “Million Dollar Baby.” He won an Oscar for co-writing the original screenplay for "Crash” in 2006, which he also directed. The film also went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture that same year.

Haggis is also facing legal troubles in the United States. Film publicist Haleigh Breest sued him in December of 2017 for allegedly raping her after a film premiere in 2013. The civil case, which was delayed due to COVID, is expected to go to trial in October, according to Variety.

Haggis has denied the allegations and contends that the contact between them had been consensual.

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