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Wednesday, 29 June 2022 – Oscar-winning film director, Paul Haggis has been given a trial date for his rape lawsuit in New York City after being accused of attacking a publicist.
Haggis will stand trial from October 11 before Judge Sabrina Kraus, Variety reports. He was accused of rape by Haleigh Breest, a film publicist, in 2017. She alleges she was raped by Haggis at his apartment in 2013 following a film premiere.
But Haggis has since denied the accusation, saying the encounter was consensual, and calling the allegations an attempt at extortion.
Following Breest’s lawsuit in 2017, three more women accused Haggis of sexual misconduct in January 2018, including one who alleges she was raped by him.
Haggis attempted to expedite the trial, citing mounting legal bills and an inability to work until his name is cleared, but his request was denied.
The director, who co-wrote the 2006 Oscar-winning film ‘Crash’, is currently under detention after being arrested in southern Italy.
Haggis has denied wrongdoing, and an Italian judge has ordered him to remain at the hotel while police investigate the claims.
Prosecutors have said he is under investigation for alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.
After conducting a hearing that lasted several hours in the Brindisi courthouse, Judge Vilma Gilli issued the ruling that extends his detention at the farmhouse residence in the countryside of Ostuni, a tourist town where he was supposed to participate in an arts festival this week, Corriere della Sera daily reported.
Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, said his client had reiterated his total innocence and is in ‘hopeful expectation’ that he will be ultimately vindicated.
A British woman has also claimed that he raped her in a two-day ordeal earlier this month.
Prosecutors have described the woman as young and foreign. State TV and other Italian media said she is a 30-year-old Englishwoman who had known Haggis before he came to Ostuni.
Asked by a reporter what kind of relationship Haggis and the woman had, Laforgia replied that it had been a ‘relationship of acquaintance.’
The lawyer said the defense disputes a hospital report indicating that the woman had suffered physical injuries.
‘Paul Haggis answered all questions and explained what happened,’ Laforgia told reporters outside the courthouse. ‘He declared himself, as he had already done right after the detention, completely innocent, in the sense that the relations he had with this woman were totally consensual.’