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Filmmaker Paul Haggis ordered to pay $7.5M to rape accuser in N.Y. trial – Nationwide

A jury ordered Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis Thursday to pay not less than $7.5 million to a lady who accused him of rape in certainly one of a number of #MeToo-era instances which have put Hollywood notables’ conduct on trial this fall. The jury additionally plans to award further punitive damages.

Veering from intercourse to red-carpet socializing to Scientology, the civil court docket trial pitted Haggis, recognized for writing finest image Oscar winners “Million Greenback Child” and “Crash,” in opposition to Haleigh Breest, a publicist who met him whereas working at film premieres within the early 2010s. After a screening afterparty in January 2013, he supplied her a carry residence and invited her to his New York condominium for a drink.

After hugging her attorneys, Breest mentioned she was “very grateful” for the decision as she left court docket. Haggis declined to remark.

He sat stock-still as the decision was learn, then turned to have a look at his three grownup daughters within the courtroom viewers. One had been crying on a sister’s shoulder.

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Paul Haggis trial: Publicist accuses filmmaker of rape, ‘I used to be like a trapped animal’

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

Jurors sided with Breest, who mentioned she suffered psychological {and professional} penalties from her encounter with Haggis. She sued in late 2017.

“I believed I used to be getting a experience residence. I agreed to have a drink. What occurred by no means ought to have occurred. And it had nothing to do with me, and every little thing to do with him and his actions,” she instructed jurors final month.

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

The decision 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. In the meantime, “That ’70s Present” actor Danny Masterson and former film magnate Harvey Weinstein are on trial, individually, on legal rape expenses in Los Angeles. Each deny the allegations, and Weinstein is interesting a conviction in New York.

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Click to play video: 'Harvey Weinstein extradited to California to face further sexual assault charges'

Harvey Weinstein extradited to California to face additional sexual assault expenses

All 4 instances adopted the #MeToo upwelling of denunciations, disclosures and calls for for accountability about sexual misconduct, triggered by October 2017 information reviews on a long time of allegations about Weinstein.

Breest, specifically, mentioned she determined to sue Haggis as a result of his public condemnations of Weinstein infuriated her: “This man raped me, and he’s presenting himself as a champion of girls to the world,” she recalled pondering.

4 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. Not one of the 4 took authorized motion.

“The conduct confirmed me that he was any person who was by no means going to cease,” one lady testified, saying that Haggis repeatedly tried to kiss her in opposition to her will and even adopted her into and out of a taxi to her condominium in Toronto in 2015. His attorneys sought to assail the accusers’ credibility.

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The Related Press usually doesn’t determine individuals who say they’ve been sexually assaulted until they arrive ahead publicly, as Breest has performed.

Learn extra:

Decide in Italy weighs if Paul Haggis goes free in intercourse abuse probe

Haggis denied all the allegations. He instructed jurors the accusations left him shaken.

“I’m scared as a result of I don’t know why ladies, why anybody, would lie about issues like this,” he mentioned. His protection, in the meantime, launched jurors to a number of ladies — together with ex-wife and former longtime “Dallas” solid member Deborah Rennard — who mentioned the screenwriter-director took it in stride after they rebuffed his romantic or sexual overtures.

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

The 2 sides debated whether or not Haggis was bodily able to finishing up the alleged assault eight weeks after a spinal surgical procedure. Psychology consultants supplied dueling views about what one known as widespread misconceptions about rape victims’ conduct, corresponding to assumptions that victims would don’t have any subsequent contact with their attackers.

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

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Learn extra:

Paul Haggis rape accuser denies claims of Scientology conspiracy

By testimony from Haggis and different ex-members, his protection argued that the church got down to discredit him and might need had one thing to do with the lawsuit.

No witnesses mentioned they knew that Haggis’ accusers or Breest’s attorneys had Scientology ties, and his attorneys acknowledged that Breest herself doesn’t. Nonetheless, Haggis lawyer Priya Chaudhry sought to influence jurors that there have been “the footprints, although perhaps not the fingerprints, of Scientology’s involvement right here.”

The church mentioned in a press release 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 have known as it “a shameful and unsupported conspiracy idea.”

The Canadian-born Haggis received his begin as a TV author, ultimately penning episodes of such well-known Eighties sequence as “Diff’hire Strokes” and “Thirtysomething.” He broke into films with a splash with “Million Greenback Child” and “Crash,” which he additionally directed and co-produced. Every 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 Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Letters From Iwo Jima” and the screenplays for the James Bond films “On line casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.”



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