A jury discovered filmmaker Paul Haggis liable in a sexual assault case that was introduced ahead by a former publicist who alleged he raped her after a film premiere in 2013.
The jury ordered the Oscar-winning screenwriter to pay Haleigh Breest not less than $7.5 million in damages Thursday, in accordance with attorneys for each Breest and Haggis.
Breest introduced the case beneath the New York Metropolis Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Safety Act.
Lawyer Ilann Maazel, who represents Breest, instructed CNN by telephone, “We’re grateful. We’re thankful. The jury was methodical and did justice today. We are proud, not just for Haleigh but for the entire #MeToo movement.”
In a press release to CNN, Haggis’s legal professional, Priya Chaudhry mentioned, “We are disappointed and shocked by this verdict.”
“It was impossible for Mr. Haggis to get a fair trial once the judge allowed the statements of 4 other women who never went to the police, never took any action against him, and 3 of 4 never even came into the courtroom,” the legal professional added. “They used this to distort the truth, assassinate Mr. Haggis’ character, paint him as a monster, and use a ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ strategy. No one could have had a fair trial in that courtroom under those circumstances. This is a shameful exploitation of the #MeToo movement where political sentiment trumps facts.”
Breest alleged that Haggis sexually assaulted her on the night of January 31, 2013, in his Manhattan condominium when she was 26 years previous – “less than half Mr. Haggis’s age,” in accordance with the grievance filed within the state Supreme Court docket’s department in New York County in 2017.
“The emotional and psychological damage to Ms. Breest from the attack cannot be overstated: it has been profound and lasting,” the grievance mentioned.
The incident occurred after Haggis and Breest had been at a film premiere, in accordance with the grievance. Towards the tip of the occasion, Haggis supplied Breest a trip dwelling, the grievance alleges.
As soon as in his automobile, Haggis invited Breest over for a drink.
“Ms. Breest told him she was willing to go to a public bar, but stated she did not want to go to his apartment. Mr. Haggis insisted they go to his apartment,” the grievance mentioned.
Breest “relented” after being “faced with his persistence” and after recognizing that he was a “powerful member of the Hollywood elite who could influence her career,” in accordance with the grievance.
The grievance alleges that Haggis made undesirable sexual advances and forcibly kissed her.
“She repeatedly told him ‘No’ but he would not stop,” the grievance mentioned.
Haggis obtained Breest into the bed room the place he compelled himself on her and in the end raped her regardless of her efforts to push him off, the grievance alleges.
Maazel instructed CNN that the punitive harm trial will doubtless proceed Monday the place he expects Haggis to take the stand.
Haggis is a director, producer and screenwriter. His movie credit embrace “Crash,” which earned him Oscars for finest image and finest authentic screenplay on the 2006 Academy Awards. He additionally acquired a nomination for his screenplay for the multi-Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby.”
The filmmaker was detained in Italy over sexual assault allegations earlier this 12 months whereas he was there to attend a movie competition. An legal professional for Haggis denied the allegations.