Oscar-winner Paul Haggis released from house arrest in Italy, lawyer says

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FILE PHOTO: Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis arrives for hearing at a court, in Brindisi

MILAN – An Italian judge on Monday ruled that Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis should be released from house arrest while authorities continue to investigate allegations that he raped a woman, his lawyer told Reuters.

“Our request to revoke house arrest was accepted by the judge without further measures, so Mr. Haggis is free,” said Michele Laforgia, his lawyer, adding that he still did not know if his client wanted to leave Italy.

Haggis was arrested on June 19 after a British woman accused him of raping her over a two-day period in the southern Italian town of Ostuni, where he was teaching at a film event.

He denied the allegations during an initial face-to-face hearing with his accuser last week. “Paul Haggis explained the facts and what happened, and he declared himself completely innocent,” Laforgia had told reporters after the hearing.

Laforgia said sex between his client and the woman was “totally consensual” during the three days they spent together, and she had no signs of injury or violence as had been alleged by the prosecution.

The 28-year-old woman gave a very different version of events during the hearing, repeating the accusations against Haggis, her lawyer, Claudio Strata, told reporters at the time.

Haggis, 69, wrote “Million Dollar Baby” and co-wrote and directed “Crash,” a crime drama for which he won two Oscars.

(Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Editing by Paul Simao)

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