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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 no less than $7.5 million to a girl who accused him of rape in one in all a number of #MeToo-era instances which have put Hollywood notables’ habits on trial this fall. The jury additionally plans to award extra punitive damages.

Veering from intercourse to red-carpet socializing to Scientology, the civil court docket trial pitted Haggis, identified 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 provided her a raise house and invited her to his New York house for a drink.

After hugging her legal professionals, Breest stated 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, stated Haggis then subjected her to undesirable advances and in the end compelled her to carry out oral intercourse and raped her regardless of her entreaties to cease. Haggis, 69, stated the publicist was flirtatious and, whereas generally seeming “conflicted,” initiated kisses and oral intercourse in a wholly consensual interplay. He stated he couldn’t recall whether or not they had intercourse.

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

“I assumed I used to be getting a experience house. 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 determine 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 prison rape prices 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 prices

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

Breest, particularly, stated 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 habits confirmed me that he was any person who was by no means going to cease,” one girl 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 house in Toronto in 2015. His legal professionals sought to assail the accusers’ credibility.

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

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Choose 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 stated. His protection, in the meantime, launched jurors to a number of ladies — together with ex-wife and former longtime “Dallas” forged member Deborah Rennard — who stated the screenwriter-director took it in stride once they rebuffed his romantic or sexual overtures.

Throughout 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 night time in query, and a few variations between their testimony and what they stated 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 specialists provided dueling views about what one known as widespread misconceptions about rape victims’ habits, similar to assumptions that victims would haven’t any subsequent contact with their attackers.

And jurors heard in depth 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.

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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 may need had one thing to do with the lawsuit.

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

The church stated 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 legal professionals 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 collection as “Diff’lease Strokes” and “Thirtysomething.” He broke into motion pictures with a splash with “Million Greenback Child” and “Crash,” which he additionally directed and co-produced. Every 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 Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Letters From Iwo Jima” and the screenplays for the James Bond motion pictures “On line casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.”



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