$7.5 million for Paul Haggis sex victim: Oscar-winning Hollywood director on trial in New York
Paul Haggis, Canadian filmmaker who won an Oscar as producer and screenwriter of the 2006 film “Crash,” was found guilty yesterday in a New York trial of raping a publicist and must now pay $7.5 million in damages.
Haleigh Breest sued the director in 2017, accusing him of having her raped in his apartment in Soho (NYC) on January 31, 2013, after a movie premiere.
After a three-week trial in the Manhattan Supreme Courtthe jury of four women and two men returned a verdict in favor of Breest after a day of deliberation, finding that Haggis forced her to have three sexual acts separated.
Jurors also found that Haggis, now 69, should be held liable for punitive damages. A second phase of the trial will begin Monday to determine how much should be awarded.
Outside court, Brest said she was “very grateful.” And her attorney, Zoe Salzman, added: “We are pleased with the jury’s outcome.”
“Haggis showed no emotion when the verdict was read, although one of his daughters broke down in tears. Outside, however, he said he was “very disappointed with the results and I will continue with my team to fight to clear my name and keep our options open on what we do,” he quoted. New York Post.
Brest testified over four days about the alleged rape, describing how he felt like a “trapped animal” during the encounter. The woman, who was 26 at the time, said that after the unspecified film opened the screenwriter offered to drive her to her house using her car service.
But according to her, Haggis then convinced her to go to his Mercer Street penthouse. Once inside, Breest, whose cell phone was not working, tried to fend off Haggis’s kisses and eventually fought him off as she tried to remove his stockings once they were inside the guest room. He claimed that he then forced her to give him oral sex before raping her.
For his part, Haggis maintained that the incident was consensual and never forced. He also claimed that the Church of Scientology is behind the accusations de Breest, as well as the affirmations of four other women, who also testified that Haggis raped and sexually assaulted them.
He claims the church fabricated the alleged claims against him as part of its revenge against him for publicly parting ways with them in 2009 after more than 30 years as a member.
La actriz de “King of Queens” Leah Remini, also a former member of Scientology, testified on video Monday that the church uses litigation to “destroy” its enemies and claimed that Haggis was the “victim here.”
Scientology on Monday denied any connection to the case against Haggis. “For more than a decade, Haggis has written false stories about the Church in an effort to divert attention from the wrongdoing he has engaged in,” the organization said in a statement. “The church has nothing to do with the claims against Haggis nor does it have any relationship with the accusers or the attorneys litigating the case.”