Paul Haggis should pay $7.5-million judgment in rape case

Oscar-winning writer-director Paul Haggis should pay a minimum of $7.5 million to the lady who accused him of raping her throughout a 2013 encounter at his New York Metropolis house.

The judgment got here Thursday after the jury in Haggis’ civil trial discovered the “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter chargeable for the sexual assault on Haleigh Breest, a former publicist who labored the pink carpets at film premieres within the early 2010s. In line with the Related Press, the jury intends to stage extra punitive damages within the case.

The decision within the case — which Breest, 36, first introduced in opposition to Haggis, 69, in 2017 — took six hours, the New York Instances reported.

The “Crash” writer-director was silent within the face of reporters’ questions as he walked out of the courtroom, whereas Breest stated solely that she was “very grateful.” She added in a later assertion to NYT, “I am grateful that I had the opportunity to seek justice and accountability in court — and that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me.”

Priya Chaudhry, Haggis’ legal professional, stated in a press release to the Los Angeles Instances {that a} honest trial for Haggis was “impossible” as soon as the choose admitted the statements of 4 extra ladies — three of whom didn’t seem in courtroom — who didn’t go to the police with their complaints.

“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,” Chaudhry continued, calling the trial “a shameful exploitation of the #MeToo movement where political sentiment trumps facts.”

Breest filed the lawsuit in December 2017 alleging Haggis raped her at his SoHo house in New York on Jan. 31, 2013. The 2 met up at a premiere celebration for the Steven Soderbergh movie “Side Effects,” the place she was working as a contract publicist.

She stated she accepted his supply of a trip dwelling after which his supply of a drink at his place, although she had prompt getting a drink at a bar as an alternative, as a result of she didn’t need to offend her employer’s high-profile red-carpet visitor. At his loft, she alleged, the filmmaker pressured her to carry out oral intercourse on him, “aggressively inserted” his finger into her vagina after which raped her.

Haggis had filed his personal civil go well with hours earlier than Breest’s grievance was submitted, alleging that she and her legal professional tried to extort $9 million in “hush money” relating to what the director stated was a false rape declare.

In January 2018, Breest’s lawsuit was up to date to incorporate statements from three different ladies who got here ahead anonymously to allege sexual misconduct by Haggis, together with one girl who alleged that he raped her.

An appeals courtroom choose threw out Haggis’ case in July 2018, saying it had no particular allegation that Breest threatened to go public along with her declare if she weren’t paid. The director deserted his attraction of the choice in March 2019.

Throughout three days on the stand final week, Haggis alleged Breest had flirted with him on the occasion and willingly went to his place, the place he made a go inside minutes. He stated she “seemed conflicted in some way” when the 2 initially had been kissing, however he thought she was being “playful” when she instructed him up entrance that she wasn’t going to spend the night time in SoHo. Haggis stated he had no reminiscence of whether or not they had intercourse, however that he discovered the oral intercourse pleasurable.

Earlier than Haggis’ testimony, Breest instructed the jury that upon arriving at Haggis’ house the filmmaker had abruptly tried to kiss her, backed her into his fridge and requested her, “Are you scared of me?”

She then recounted what she stated was a terrifying, painful assault that left her shocked and “really struggling to comprehend what had happened,” noting that she “couldn’t understand how somebody who seemed like a nice guy would do that.”

Breest testified that she managed to dodge him however stated that after they reached a visitor bed room, Haggis “became aggressive very quickly,” pushed her onto the mattress and pulled off her tights and garments. She tried to maintain them on and instructed him to cease, she stated.

Then, she stated, he pressured her to carry out oral intercourse and needed intercourse. She stated she requested to take a bathe as a delicate option to get out of the room, however he adopted her there, then steered her again to the visitor bed room and made an additional collection of undesirable sexual strikes that culminated in rape.

“I was like a trapped animal. There was nothing for me to do,” she stated.

Breest stated she handed out quickly afterward, awoke alone on the mattress the following morning and left with out seeing Haggis once more.

Haggis testified that he woke up in the course of the night time and went to sleep in his personal mattress. When he awoke, he stated he was upset to see that she was gone and hadn’t left him her cellphone quantity.

The jurors will return to courtroom Monday to resolve punitive damages. Haggis instructed the courtroom in 2021 that he was almost bankrupt, having racked up almost $2 million in authorized charges at that time.

The Related Press contributed to this report.