HomeHollywoodOscar-winning director Paul Haggis ordered to pay $7.5 million in rape suit

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis ordered to pay $7.5 million in rape suit

A jury ordered Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis Thursday to pay at the least $7.5 million to a girl who accused him of rape in considered one of a number of #MeToo-era circumstances which have put Hollywood notables’ habits on trial this fall. Jurors additionally plan to award extra punitive damages.

Veering from intercourse to red-carpet socializing to Scientology, the civil courtroom trial pitted Haggis, recognized for writing finest image Oscar winners Million Dollar Baby and Crash, towards Haleigh Breest, a publicist who met him whereas working at film premieres within the early 2010s.

After hugging her attorneys, Breest mentioned she was “very grateful” for the decision as she left courtroom. In a press release launched later, she mentioned she was grateful “that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me.”

Haggis mentioned he was “very disappointed in the results.”

“I’m going to continue to, with my team, fight to clear my name,” he mentioned as he left the courthouse along with his three grownup daughters. One had wept on a sister’s shoulder as the decision was delivered.

After a screening afterparty in January 2013, Paul Haggis supplied Breest a raise residence and invited her to his New York condominium for a drink.

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 wholly consensual interplay. He mentioned he couldn’t recall whether or not they had intercourse.

After a day of deliberating, jurors sided with Breest, who mentioned she suffered psychological {and professional} penalties from her encounter with Haggis. She sued in late 2017.

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

The verdict 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. Meanwhile, That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson and former film magnate Harvey Weinstein are on trial, individually, on prison rape expenses in Los Angeles. Both deny the allegations, and Weinstein is interesting a conviction in New York.

All 4 circumstances adopted the #MeToo upwelling of denunciations, disclosures and calls for for accountability about sexual misconduct, triggered by October 2017 news studies on many years of allegations about Weinstein.

Breest, specifically, mentioned she determined to sue Haggis as a result of his public condemnations of Weinstein infuriated her.

Four different girls additionally testified that they skilled forceful, unwelcome passes — and in a single case, rape — by Haggis in separate encounters going again to 1996. None of the 4 took authorized motion.

The Associated Press typically doesn’t establish individuals who say they’ve been sexually assaulted until they arrive ahead publicly, as Breest has completed.

Haggis denied all the allegations. His protection, in the meantime, launched jurors to a number of girls — together with ex-wife and former longtime “Dallas” forged member Deborah Rennard — who mentioned the screenwriter-director took it in stride after they rebuffed his romantic or sexual overtures.

During three weeks of testimony, the trial scrutinized textual content messages that Breest despatched to buddies about what occurred with Haggis, emails between them earlier than and after the evening in query, and a few variations between their testimony and what they mentioned in early courtroom papers.

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

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

Through 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. Still, Haggis lawyer Priya Chaudhry sought to steer jurors that there have been “the footprints, though maybe not the fingerprints, of Scientology’s involvement here.”

The church mentioned in a press release that it has no involvement within the matter, arguing that Haggis is attempting to disgrace his accusers with an “absurd and patently false” declare. Breest’s attorneys, Ilann Maazal and Zoe Salzman, have known as it “a shameful and unsupported conspiracy theory.”

The Canadian-born Haggis penned episodes of such well-known collection as Diff’hire Strokes and Thirtysomething within the Eighties. He broke into motion pictures with a splash with Million Dollar Baby and Crash, which he additionally directed and co-produced. Each movie received the Academy Award for finest image, for 2004 and 2005 respectively, and Haggis additionally received a screenwriting Oscar for Crash.

His different credit embrace the screenplays for the James Bond motion pictures Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

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