Paul Haggis appeared Wednesday in an Italian court where he denied raping a woman he encountered at a film festival they were attending, telling a judge that the two engaged in consensual sex, according to multiple reports.
Haggis and his Italian attorney met for several hours with a judge who will decide later Wednesday whether to let him go free while the investigation continues, or keep him under house arrest at the hotel room where he’s been staying in the boot-heel of Italy for Allora Fest.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Haggis was accompanied only by his lawyer as he entered the courtroom, and did not make a statement. The two-time Oscar winner intends to stay in the country until he clears his name, his lawyer told a Variety reporter based in Italy.
The attorney, Michele Laforgia, said his client “made a long, written deposition and then answered all questions reconstructing day by day – and in some cases hour by hour – what took place during the three days during which he was in the company of this woman in Ostuni.”
Laforgia said the relations he had with the woman “are totally consensual” and denied that there was any sign of injury or violence in a medical report prepared at the hospital where the accuser was taken Sunday morning. Airline employees found the woman at the airport – where she said Haggis dropped her off in the early morning hours with some money – and described her as being in a shattered state.
State and local TV reported that the accuser is a 30-year-old Englishwoman who was known to Haggis prior to arriving for the festival, where he was set to give a masterclass. The fest has dropped his appearances and distanced itself from him.
Haggis was arrested Sunday for alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries. Police said the woman’s movements and physical state were consistent with her story – that she was brutally sexually assaulted over the course of at least two days at Haggis’ hotel room, then left to fend for herself at the airport.
Haggis’ longtime attorney has denied the allegations, the latest to surface against the “Crash” director and “Million Dollar Baby” writer who’s been accused by four other women. The Oscar winner publicly left Scientology in 2009 and has claimed the church is behind the accusations.
“I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis,” longtime Haggis attorney Priya Chaudhry told TheWrap. “He is totally innocent, and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly.”
Haggis had previously been accused of sexual abuse by four other women, including a publicist who accused him in 2018 of raping her at a premiere and is pursuing a civil lawsuit that has dragged on for over five years because of a state court backlog in New York.
Haggis has vehemently denied all wrongdoing, and his ex-wife has publicly supported his denials.