Paul Haggis: 'Crash' director ordered to pay victim Haleigh Breest $7.5M who accused him of rape
Disappointed with the verdict, Paul Haggis said, 'I will continue with my team to fight to clear my name'
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Paul Haggis, an Oscar-winning director, was found guilty on Thursday, November 10, of raping a publicist almost ten years ago and now must pay $7.5 million in damages. Haleigh Breest filed a lawsuit against the 'Crash' director in 2017, alleging that following a premiere on January 31, 2013, he had raped her in his Soho flat.
Additionally, the jury decided that Haggis, 69, should be held accountable for punitive damages. The trial's second part, which will establish how much should be paid, will start on Monday, November 14.
Breest declared that she was "extremely grateful" to the jury after the hearing. Her attorney, Zoe Salzman, continued, "We are pleased with the jury's result." Although one of his daughters sobbed as the verdict was read, Haggis remained emotionless. However, he expressed his disappointment with the outcome outside, saying, "very disappointed with the results, and I will continue with my team to fight to clear my name and keep our options open as to what we will do."
Breest gave four days of testimony regarding the alleged rape, explaining how she felt like a "trapped animal" at the time. After the movie premiere, the 'Million Dollar Baby' screenwriter allegedly offered Breest, who was 26 at the time, a ride home in his vehicle.
New York Post reported that despite her concerns that they should go to a public bar instead, Haggis persuaded Breest to go to his Mercer Street penthouse residence. Breest, whose phone had died, claimed that once they were inside the guest bedroom, she resisted Haggis' kisses and eventually struggled with him as he sought to take off her tights. Breest claimed that before raping her, Haggis made her perform oral sex for him.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, the 36-year-old claimed that after receiving unwelcome advances, Haggis forced her to engage in oral sex and raped her despite her pleas for him to stop. Haggis, 69, however, claimed the publicist was flirty and started kisses and oral sex in a fully consensual interaction, albeit occasionally appearing "conflicted." He claimed he couldn't remember if they engaged in sexual activity.
The following day, Breest wrote in text messages to a friend that she "kept saying no" to Haggis; these communications were admitted as evidence at the trial. Ilann Maazel, the attorney for Breest, referred to Haggis as a "monster" and a "psychopath" in his final remarks to the jury on Wednesday, New York Post reported. According to Maazel, Breest was traumatized by the episode and still had flashbacks to it today. He claimed that since then, his client has only had one sexual encounter, hasn't had a lover and hasn't been able to get hitched or start a family.
On the other hand, Haggis asserted that the Church of Scientology is responsible for Breest's allegations as well as those of four other women who have also testified that Haggis sexually attacked and raped them. As part of their feud against him for openly leaving the church in 2009 after over 30 years as a member, he believes the church concocted the alleged bogus accusations against him.
As per New York Post, Scientology vehemently denied any association with the Haggis prosecution on Monday and stated, "For over a decade, Haggis has penned false stories about the Church in an effort to distract from whatever bad acts he has engaged in." "The church has nothing to do with the claims against Haggis, nor does it have any relation to the accusers or to the attorneys litigating the case."