Paul Haggis loses rape suit, must pay Haleigh Breest $7.5M

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis was found liable Thursday for the rape of a publicist nearly a decade ago and must now cough up $7.5 million in damages.

Haleigh Breest sued the “Crash” director in 2017, accusing him of violently raping her in his Soho apartment on January 31, 2013, after a film premiere.

After a three-week trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, the jury of four women and two men returned the verdict in Breest’s favor after one day of deliberation, finding that Haggis on three different sexual activities i.

The jurors also decided that Haggis, 69, should be liable for punitive damages. A second phase of testing will begin on Monday to determine what should be awarded.

Outside court, Breest said she was “very grateful”. while her lawyer, Zoe Salzman, said: “We are pleased with the jury’s outcome.

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Haggis showed no emotion when the verdict was read, although one of his daughters broke down in tears. Outside, however, he said he was “very disappointed with the results and I will continue to go with my team to fight to clear my name and keep our options open as to what we will.”

Breest testified for four days about the alleged rape, describing how she felt like a “trapped animal” when it happened.

Breest – who was 26 at the time – said that after the film’s premiere, the “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter offered to drive him home in his car service.

Haleigh Breest in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The jury was convened by journalist Haleigh Breest after a three-week trial.
Steven Hirsch

But Haggis then banished Breest to his Mercer Street lighthouse apartment over her objections that they go to a public bar instead, she said.

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Once inside, Breest – whose mobile phone had died – says she tried to return Haggis’ kisses and ended up fighting him off. tried to take off her tights once they were inside the guest room.

Breest said Haggis forced her to give him oral sex before forcing her.

The day after, Breest sent text messages to a friend, writing that she “kept saying no” to Haggis – messages that were presented at the trial.

Breest’s attorney, Ilann Maazel, told the jury Wednesday during closing arguments that Haggis is a “monster” and a “pyschopath.”

Maazel also said that Breest was traumatized and to this day, he suffers from persistent memories of the incident. He said his client has only had sex once since then, has never had a boyfriend and is unable to get married and start a family.

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Haggis insisted the incident was consensual and told the jury in three days of testimony that he only remembers Breest giving him oral sex – contradicting in her testimony that he also had sex with her.

Haggis has also said that the Church of Scientology is behind Breest’s allegations as well as the allegations of four other women, who have also testified that Haggis raped and sexually assaulted them.

He says the church cooked up the false allegations against him as part of their vendetta against him for publicly splitting with the church in 2009 after more than 30 years as a member.

Haleigh Breast

Haleigh Breest received $7.5 million.

Haleigh Breast

Breest won the civil suit against Haggis.

Haleigh Breast

Breest laughs after winning his civil suit.

“King of Queens” actress Leah Remini, also a former scientist, said in a video on Monday that the church uses legal action to “destroy” its enemies and said that Haggis is the “victim here”.

Scientology on Monday denied any connection to the case against Haggis.

“For more than a decade, Haggis has written false stories about the Church in an attempt to distract attention from his wrongdoing,” the church said in a statement. “The church has nothing to do with the allegations. against Haggis and she has no relationship with the prosecutors or the lawyers who are bringing the case.”


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