AceShowbiz - A sexual assault charge against Paul Haggis has been dismissed. The 69-year-old Oscar-winning director was arrested in Italy in June on suspicion of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury after an unnamed British woman claimed she had forced him into having sex over a two-day period. However, on Friday, July 29, a court in Lecce, Italy ruled in his favour and found no basis to continue investigating the allegations.
The ruling came after prosecutors applied to continue the "Crash" director's house arrest while they carried on with their investigations. A statement from Paul's Italian lawyer Michele Laforgia said, "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."
Paul was kept under police detention in a hotel after being arrested on June, 19, but was released from house arrest two weeks later while prosecutors decided whether to pursue their investigation. The "Third Person" director had insisted he was "totally innocent" and his legal team did not expect the case to move forward.
His lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, previously said in a statement, "Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the evidence. That said, I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis. He is totally innocent and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly."
The "Million Dollar Baby" writer was in town for the Allora Fest film event, which ran in Ostuni from June 21 to June 26, but organisers removed him from the schedule as a result of the allegations. They said in a statement, "(We) immediately proceeded to remove any participation of the director from the event."
At the same time, they express full solidarity with the woman involved. "The themes chosen for the festival are, among others, those of equality, gender equality, and solidarity. As professionals and women they are dismayed and hope that the festival will help foster more information and awareness on such a topical and increasingly pressing issue," the statement read.