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Prosecutors in Italy Request Dismissal in Paul Haggis Sexual Assault Case

The criminal sexual assault case against Paul Haggis in Italy could be coming to an end, with prosecutors in the Southern Italy city Brindisi, where Haggis was charged with sexual assault, requesting that the case be dismissed.

The case dates back to June 2022, when the writer-director was booked and placed under house arrest following the complaint of a British woman who was attending the Allora Film Fest with the director. According to the charges, Haggis allegedly abused the woman for three days (June 12-15, 2022) in the lodgings they shared. As a result of the complaint, the director was kept under preventative house arrest from June 19 to July 4, a decision later revoked by Preliminary Investigation Judge Vilma Gilli once it was determined that there was no risk of recurrence.

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The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Brindisi has told local media that the investigation could not establish that the relationship was nonconsensual. The decision to dismiss the case had been floated last January to THR Roma by prosecutor Antonio Negro, who said at the time, “In mid-February we will present either the request to dismiss the case or the notice of conclusion of the preliminary investigation.”

Haggis, 70, has denied the charges.

A judge in Brindisi will now decide if the case will be dismissed. There is still the possibility that the British woman who made the allegations against Haggis in 2022 will come forward to oppose the dismissal.

Haggis and prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

This is not the first case of sexual assault charges for Haggis. In the United States, he was found liable in civil court for the rape of his former collaborator Haleigh Breest. She sued Haggis in 2017, in the early months of the #MeToo movement, for an assault that occurred in the director’s apartment in 2013. While he never faced any criminal charges in the case, a New York civil court awarded Breest $7.5 million in compensatory damages, and an added $2.5 million in punitive damages, for a total of $10 million.

Last January, with investigations into the Brindisi case still ongoing (and after the New York court ruling), Haggis returned to Italy. From Jan. 26 to 28, he organized a private workshop, open to up to 20 actors and actresses that “focused on the auditioning process: from preparing for a scene to shooting,” according to an Instagram ad posted Jan. 8.

But the association promptly distanced itself from the event. President Cinzia Mascoli stated, “Artisti 7607 is not involved in this workshop,” referring any further communication and requests to Haggis’ personal assistant.

Through communication with the assistant, however, it was not possible to obtain a meeting with Haggis nor was the workshop location shared, despite repeated requests. “Paul thanks you for the interest,” was the response. “However, he has asked me to inform you that his classes are not open to journalists and/or press exclusives because this could violate the privacy of artists who need intimacy and protection to explore their characters in the workshop Paul offers.”

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