Paul Haggis takes stand to ‘clear my name’ in rape suit



WARNING: This story accommodates disturbing particulars.

Canadian filmmaker Paul Haggis informed jurors Wednesday that he believed he had a consensual encounter with a girl who later accused him of rape, portraying himself as a “flirt” who acted on what he thought was mutual attraction.

Publicist Haleigh Breest alleges that he pressured her to carry out oral intercourse after which raped her in 2013 as she repeatedly informed him no.

As Haggis took the stand because the defendant in the civil rape trial, he mentioned she “never gave me any indication it was anything other than consensual” till he heard from her attorneys in 2017. She sued quickly after.

“For five years, I’ve been unable to clear my name, and now I will,” Haggis informed jurors.

Breest earlier gave the jury an intensive account of the alleged assault.

“I said, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’” she testified. She is looking for unspecified damages; there are not any prison fees in the case.

Haggis’ testimony, due to proceed Thursday, hasn’t but addressed all of Breest’s accusations, together with the moment at which she mentioned he shoved her onto a mattress, pulled off her garments and compelled oral intercourse. Nor has he detailed his account of the purpose at which she alleges he raped her.

But earlier that night, when she maintains Haggis startled her with kisses that she didn’t return and shortly backed out of, he mentioned she initially deflected him with an ambiguous “ooh!” Then, when he made one other move, “she was kissing me back,” he testified.

Haggis agreed with some elements of his accuser’s account of how she ended up alone with him in his downtown Manhattan loft: He supplied her a journey dwelling from a film premiere and invited her for a drink at his condominium. She responded by suggesting a bar as a substitute. When he mentioned he most well-liked the condominium, she accepted however informed him she wasn’t spending the night time.

But the place Breest mentioned she made clear that she wasn’t in a bodily liaison, Haggis mentioned he received a unique sign.

Once they received to his dwelling, “she was having a really good time, it seemed to me,” and so they had been each “flirtatious,” smiling and “very engaged” as they chatted over glasses of wine, he mentioned.

Breest’s attorneys haven’t but gotten their probability to cross-examine Haggis, who is thought for writing the early-2000s finest image Oscar winners “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash.” Breest was a publicist who moonlighted at premieres that he generally attended.

The 69-year-old moviemaker testified that he thought Breest, 36, flirted with him at screenings and in occasional emails about occasions and present enterprise. He mentioned he discovered her “adorable.”

When she greeted him with a hug on the night time in query, he took it as “an escalation in our relationship,” he mentioned.

Breest has mentioned she simply confirmed skilled friendliness to Haggis, who’s older than her father.

Haggis hasn’t but informed the jury his model of interactions with 4 different girls who testified that he sexually assaulted them on separate events between 1996 and 2015. One mentioned he raped her.

In testimony that veered from self-deprecating humor to just a few tears as he recalled a failed marriage, Haggis did say he has “always been a big flirt” and acknowledged having “a number of affairs” whereas married to his second spouse, actor Deborah Rennard, from 1997 till a 2010 separation and a divorce six years later.

Hours of Haggis’ testimony targeted on his decades-long membership and extremely publicized 2009 cut up with the Church of Scientology, a system of beliefs, teachings and rituals targeted on religious progress. It was based by science fiction and fantasy creator L. Ron Hubbard in the Fifties.

Haggis’ attorneys have floated the notion that the church in some way generated the lawsuit to take down a well-known dissenter, although they’ve agreed there’s no proof that Breest has any ties to the faith. Nor have any witnesses testified that they know of a hyperlink between Scientology and Breest’s attorneys or between the religion and Haggis’ different accusers.

But certainly one of Haggis’ attorneys, Priya Chaudhry, has mentioned the “circumstantial proof of Scientology’s involvement right here will likely be highly effective.”

Ex-Scientologists, together with certainly one of his daughters, have associated what they portrayed as church efforts to scrounge up damaging details about him or his household after he left the group and referred to as it “a cult” in a 2011 New Yorker article.

The church mentioned in an announcement because the trial opened that it “has nothing to do with the claims towards Haggis, nor does it have any relation to the attorneys behind the case.” Breest’s attorneys say the identical.

The Associated Press typically would not establish individuals who allege they’ve been sexually assaulted except they arrive ahead publicly, as Breest has executed.


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