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A sexual assault charge against Paul Haggis has been dismissed.
The 69-year-old 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, but on Friday (29.07.22) a court in Lecce ruled in his favour and found no basis for 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 19 June, but was released from house arrest two weeks later while prosecutors decided whether to pursue their investigation, though he had to stay in Italy.
The 'Third Person' filmmaker previously denied the allegations against him but admitted he had made "two mistakes".
He told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “My first mistake was allowing someone who I hardly knew to come and visit me. It was foolish.
"The second mistake was on the last morning after an incident occurred that I personally found particularly unpleasant, I decided to end this situation; I took this person to the airport hours before her flight.
“I’m upset with myself for these errors in judgment but cannot comprehend that they resulted in false and damaging accusations against me.
“There are some things that I cannot understand, like how it’s possible that in your country you can start and continue a trial even when the accusation is not corroborated by clear evidence. It seems strange and unjust to me that innocent people can apparently be prosecuted for years.”
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."