Paul Haggis: Jury orders filmmaker to pay rape accuser



A jury ordered Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis Thursday to pay a minimum of US$7.5 million to a lady who accused him of rape in one among a number of #MeToo-era circumstances which have put Hollywood notables’ behaviour on trial this fall. Jurors additionally plan to award extra punitive damages.

Veering from intercourse to red-carpet socializing to Scientology, the civil court docket trial pitted Haggis, identified for writing finest image Oscar winners “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” towards Haleigh Breest, a publicist who met him whereas working at film premieres within the early 2010s.

After hugging her attorneys, Breest stated she was “very grateful” for the decision as she left court docket. In an announcement launched later, she stated she was grateful “that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me.”

Haggis stated he was “very disillusioned within the outcomes.”

“I’m going to proceed to, with my group, battle to clear my title,” he stated as he left the courthouse together with his three grownup daughters. One had wept on a sister’s shoulder as the decision was delivered.

After a screening afterparty in January 2013, Haggis provided Breest a elevate house and invited her to his New York condo for a drink.

Breest, 36, stated Haggis then subjected her to undesirable advances and in the end compelled her to carry out oral intercourse and raped her regardless of her entreaties to cease. Haggis, 69, stated the publicist was flirtatious and, whereas typically seeming “conflicted,” initiated kisses and oral intercourse in a wholly consensual communication. He stated he couldn’t recall whether or not they had intercourse.

After a day of deliberating, jurors sided with Breest, who stated she suffered psychological {and professional} penalties from her encounter with Haggis. She sued in late 2017.

While awarding her $7.5 million to compensate for struggling, the jury concluded that punitive damages also needs to be awarded. Jurors return Monday for extra court docket proceedings to assist them resolve that quantity.

The verdict got here weeks after one other civil jury, within the federal courthouse subsequent door, determined that Kevin Spacey didn’t sexually abuse fellow actor and then-teenager Anthony Rapp in 1986. Meanwhile, “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson and former film magnate Harvey Weinstein are on trial, individually, on prison rape fees in Los Angeles. Both deny the allegations, and Weinstein is interesting a conviction in New York.

All 4 circumstances adopted the #MeToo upwelling of denunciations, disclosures and calls for for accountability about sexual misconduct, triggered by October 2017 information experiences on many years of allegations about Weinstein.

Breest, particularly, stated she determined to sue Haggis as a result of his public condemnations of Weinstein infuriated her.

Four different ladies additionally testified that they skilled forceful, unwelcome passes — and in a single case, rape — by Haggis in separate encounters going again to 1996. None of the 4 took authorized motion.

The Associated Press typically doesn’t establish individuals who say they’ve been sexually assaulted except they arrive ahead publicly, as Breest has accomplished.

Haggis denied the entire allegations. His defence, in the meantime, launched jurors to a number of ladies — together with ex-wife and former longtime “Dallas” forged member Deborah Rennard — who stated the screenwriter-director took it in stride once they rebuffed his romantic or sexual overtures.

During three weeks of testimony, the trial scrutinized textual content messages that Breest despatched to mates about what occurred with Haggis, emails between them earlier than and after the evening in query, and a few variations between their testimony and what they stated in early court docket papers.

The two sides debated whether or not Haggis was bodily able to finishing up the alleged assault eight weeks after a spinal surgical procedure. Psychology consultants provided duelling views about what one known as widespread misconceptions about rape victims’ behaviour, comparable to assumptions that victims would don’t have any subsequent contact with their attackers.

And jurors heard in depth testimony concerning the Church of Scientology, the faith based by science fiction and fantasy creator L. Ron Hubbard within the Fifties. Haggis was an adherent for many years earlier than publicly renouncing, and denouncing, Scientology in 2009.

Through testimony from Haggis and different ex-members, his defence argued that the church set out to discredit him and may need had one thing to do with the lawsuit.

No witnesses stated they knew that Haggis’ accusers or Breest’s attorneys had Scientology ties, and his attorneys acknowledged that Breest herself doesn’t. Still, Haggis lawyer Priya Chaudhry sought to persuade jurors that there have been “the footprints, though maybe not the fingerprints, of Scientology’s involvement here.”

The church stated in an announcement that it has no involvement within the matter, arguing that Haggis is making an attempt to disgrace his accusers with an “absurd and patently false” declare. Breest’s attorneys, Ilann Maazal and Zoe Salzman, have known as it “a shameful and unsupported conspiracy theory.”

The Canadian-born Haggis penned episodes of such well-known collection as “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Thirtysomething” within the Nineteen Eighties. He broke into films with a splash with “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” which he additionally directed and co-produced. Each movie gained the Academy Award for finest image, for 2004 and 2005 respectively, and Haggis additionally gained a screenwriting Oscar for “Crash.”

His different credit embody the screenplays for the James Bond films “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.”

Associated Press journalist Ted Shaffrey contributed.

Resources for sexual assault survivors in Canada

If you or somebody you understand is battling sexual assault or trauma, the next sources can be found to assist individuals in disaster:

If you might be in rapid hazard or worry to your security, you need to name 911.

A full record of sexual assault centres in Canada that supply info, advocacy and counselling may be discovered at Resources in your group may be discovered by getting into your postal code. 

Helplines, authorized companies and areas that supply sexual assault kits in Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia may be discovered right here.

National Residential School Crisis Line: +1 866 925 4419

24-hour disaster line: 416 597 8808 

Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: +1 833 900 1010 

Trans Lifeline: +1 877 330 6366

Sexual misconduct assist for present or former members of the Armed Forces: +1 844 750 1648

Read about your rights as a sufferer right here.


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