A judge in southern Italy on Monday ordered Canadian-born film director Paul Haggis released from detention at his hotel while prosecutors decide whether or not to pursue allegations he had sex with a woman without her consent over two days, his lawyer said.
Michele Laforgia told The Associated Press that Haggis, who is also a screenwriter and an Academy Award winner, was still in Italy. The ruling was made by Judge Vilma Gilli in Puglia, which is the region that forms the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.
Haggis, 69, was detained by police on June 19 in Puglia after a woman told authorities that he had non-consensual sex with her over two days while he was in Italy to participate in an arts festival in the tourist town of Ostuni.
He had proclaimed his innocence, according to the lawyer.
Laforgia said in text messages that the judge had ruled there were neither signs of violence nor abuse found on the woman. Italian media have said the woman is 28 and English while prosecutors have only described her as young and a foreigner.
The courthouse was closed Monday evening and Gilli couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
An ‘absence of constrictive violent behaviour’: judge
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera, quoting from the judge’s ruling, said Gilli concluded there was an “absence of constrictive violent behaviour” by Haggis. The judge also noted in the ruling that the woman’s decision to be with Haggis in his lodgings was “spontaneous.”
It was Gilli who on June 22, after a closed door hearing, had ordered Haggis to remain in detention while the investigation continued.
Prosecutors didn’t immediately say if they would move to drop the investigation or pursue it after the judge’s ruling.
Asked if the case might be closed, Laforgia replied “let’s see what the prosecutor’s office will do at this point.”
Haggis, who resides in the United States, has had other legal problems. In recent years, four women in the United States have alleged sexual misconduct by him.