Judge in Italy extends Haggis hotel detention: Reports

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BRINDISI, Italy (AP) — A judge in southern Italy on Wednesday ordered Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis to remain in custody at his hotel as Italian prosecutors continue to investigate a woman’s allegations that he allegedly had sex with her for two days without her consent, according to Italian media.

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After conducting a hearing that lasted several hours at the Brindisi courthouse, Judge Vilma Gilli issued the decision that extends his detention for the time being in the Ostuni city hall, where he was due to attend this week at an arts festival, Corriere della Sera reported daily.

Calls Wednesday night to Villi’s office went unanswered.

News agencies Ansa and LaPresse said Villi had concluded that although Haggis, 69, who lives in the United States, did not pose a flight risk, there was the “danger” that the evidence could be compromised or that the alleged crime could be repeated.

Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, said after the hearing that her client had reiterated his complete innocence and was “hopefully hopeful” that he would eventually be exonerated.

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“Paul Haggis answered all questions and explained what happened,” Laforgia told reporters outside the courthouse. “He declared himself, as he had already done just after the detention, totally innocent, in the sense that the sexual relationship he had with this woman was totally consensual.”

While the woman’s allegations are under investigation, the 69-year-old Canadian-born director, producer and screenwriter was initially ordered on Sunday to remain detained at his guest residence on a farm in Ostuni, a popular tourist town in Puglia, the region forming the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.

Prosecutors said he was being investigated for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated bodily harm.

Prosecutors described the woman as young and foreign. State television and other Italian media said it was a 30-year-old Englishwoman who had known Haggis before he came to Ostuni to take part in an arts festival which started this week.

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 winner.

He has had legal problems in recent years due to accusations of sexual misconduct by four women in the United States.

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