Court dismisses sexual abuse case against Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis

Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis can breathe a sigh of relief now as the judge handling his case in the southern Italian city of Lecce has ruled in his favour. In his judgement, the judge reportedly stated that there are no grounds to further pursue an investigation into the director’s sexual abuse case.

On Friday, the court passed its judgement on the case and the Italian news Agency ANSA reported the same on Saturday. Elaborating on the final judgement, Haggis’ Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia said in a statement issued on Saturday, “After viewing the evidence and hearing arguments from both sides, the District Court of Lecce, an appellate court with three judges, unanimously rejected a prosecutor’s appeal to have Haggis’ house arrest reinstated.”  

The advocate further added, “Two weeks ago, Judge Vilma Gilli of the Court of Brindisi questioned the alleged victim and then immediately overturned Haggis’ house arrest.”

Reports suggest that the prosecutor of Brindisi appealed the decision to the Court of Lecce. However, Haggis’ lawyer presented what he says is “irrefutable and objective evidence that the woman told multiple lies to investigators and the court, with facts and witnesses completely contradicting her story.”

Haggis’ lawyer Laforgia also reportedly stated that the director’s arrest was the result of a judicial error and that the prosecutors must now close the case based on the evidence. He also stated that this is expected to happen in the coming weeks unless new evidence surfaces.

Reports suggest that the Court of Lecce contacted attorneys of both parties on Friday to inform them of the court’s decision that rejected the public prosecutor’s appeal and confirmed the decision made by judge Gilli. Four judges have now ruled in favour of the filmmaker.

“In the coming weeks, the reasons for the decision will be known and, therefore, so will the fate of the judicial proceedings pending in Italy,” Laforgia noted in the statement.

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Haggis was previously sued by film publicist Haleigh Breest. She had made allegations of rape against him. Haggis however said that his encounter with Breest was consensual.