Paul Haggis Makes Latest Court Appearance in Italy

·3-min read

“Crash” director Paul Haggis has made yet another court appearance in Italy, where he is currently under house arrest in a hotel after being charged with sexual assault, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Both Haggis and his alleged victim, understood to be a 28-year-old British woman, attended the courthouse in the Southern port city of Brindisi accompanied by their lawyers for the special evidence pre-trial hearing on Wednesday.

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They submitted to cross-examination before investigating judge Vilma Gilli, who would then decide the next steps in the legal proceedings. ANSA reported it was the first time accused and accuser came face to face since the alleged assault on June 15.

The accuser was in court for eight and a half hours and “confirmed the content of the complaint without any hesitation and without any uncertainty,” her lawyer Claudio Strata said.

Haggis, who won two Oscars for “Crash” and is also known for writing “Million Dollar Baby,” was arrested on June 19 after the alleged victim told police the director had engaged in non-consensual sex with her twice. He has since appeared in court twice, with a judge ordering him to stay under house arrest in a nearby hotel. (The image above was taken during Haggis’s previous court appearance on June 22).

Haggis originally came to Italy to attend the Allora Fest film festival, which he was involved in organizing and where he was due to hold a number of masterclasses, when the anonymous complainant flew in to join him. After her police complaint and Haggis’s subsequent arrest came to light the festival went ahead without the director earlier this month.

During his last court appearance, also a preliminary hearing, Haggis was questioned for several hours, submitting his responses via written statements in English as he does not speak Italian. These were then translated for the benefit of the court.

Haggis denies all the charges and claims the alleged victim consented to the sexual encounters. His lawyer, Michele Laforgia, accompanied him in court on Wednesday. Laforgia previously said the director will “remain in Italy until his total innocence is definitively proven.”

After the proceedings on Wednesday, Laforgia said that freedom would be restored to Haggis shortly with a formal request for revocation of house arrest due to be filed soon. “We are talking of a non-Italian citizen who finds himself restricted in this country with a restrictive measure of personal freedom,” Laforgia said.

Haggis is also facing court proceedings in the U.S. where he is being sued by film publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges 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 Oct. 11 in Manhattan. Haggis says the encounter with Breest, which allegedly took place after a premiere, was consensual.

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