Brindisi – Film director Paul Haggis appeared in court in southern Italy on Wednesday, amid a police probe into a woman’s claims that he had sex with her without her consent over the course of two days.
Haggis, 69, made no comment as he arrived with Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia at the courthouse in Brindisi, a port city in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of southeast Italy. There was no indication that members of his family, who were in Italy at the time, would join him.
Prosecutors announced Sunday that police arrested the Canadian-born director, screenwriter and producer on an investigation into alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated assault.
State television and other Italian media said the alleged victim was a 30-year-old English woman who knew Haggis before he came to the tourist town of Ostuni to take part in an arts festival.
Haggis co-wrote, directed and produced Crash, which won the 2006 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby, another Oscar-winning film.
He has faced legal troubles in recent years stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct by four women in the United States.
In Italy, a judge is expected to decide on Wednesday whether to release Haggis pending further investigation, after hearing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys.
The judge could also decide to imprison him or place him under house arrest.
Haggis’ US-based lawyer Priya Chaudhry told The Associated Press on Sunday, while she cannot discuss the evidence under Italian law, “I am confident that all allegations against Mr Haggis will be dismissed. He is completely innocent and willing to cooperate fully with the authorities to ensure that the truth is quickly revealed.”
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