Entertainment

Paul Haggis: Filmmaker ordered to pay $7.5m in rape suit

In a hearing on Monday on the alleged 2013 assault, jurors could possibly grant plaintiff Haleigh Breest punitive damages.

After the civil trial in New York, Ms. Breest gave hugs to her attorneys and expressed her gratitude for the decision.

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The 69-year-old Mr. Haggis has vowed to “continue to, with my team, fight to clear my name” and denies the accusations.

Million Dollar Baby and Crash writer claimed he was “extremely unhappy with the outcomes” as he exited the courthouse with his three adult daughters.

One of the five women who accused the Canadian screenwriter of unwelcome advances beginning in 1996, Ms. Breest, expressed her gratitude to the jury for having “choose to follow the facts and believing me.” The other four chose not to file a lawsuit.

A publicist named Ms. Breest sued Mr. Haggis in 2017 on the grounds that he had sexually assaulted her at his home in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood four years earlier.

She claimed that after offering to drive her home from a movie premiere, he put pressure on her to go out for drinks with him. Then, despite her pleas for him to stop, he allegedly forced her to engage in oral sex before robbing her.

Ms. Breest claimed that the attack had negative psychological and professional effects on her.

The publicist initiated kisses and oral sex in a fully consensual engagement, according to the director, albeit occasionally seeming “conflicted.” He claimed he did not recall if they had engaged in sexual activity.

It was suggested at the trial that the director had been incapable of carrying out an attack just eight weeks after he underwent back surgery.

The Church of Scientology, of which Mr. Haggis was a member until 2009, was also discussed throughout the trial. His attorneys contended that the Church was trying to damage his reputation and may have been engaged in the litigation.

The Church claimed in a statement that it was not involved in the case and that Mr. Haggis was seeking to humiliate his accusers by making a “absurd and obviously untrue” accusation. It was described as “a disgraceful and unfounded conspiracy notion” by Ms. Breest’s attorneys.

Mr. Haggis was detained in southern Italy in June on suspicion of aggravating an existing sexual assault. He spent 16 days under house arrest while denying any involvement until the case was dropped.

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