Leah Remini is, like her friend Paul Haggis, a former Scientologist. She left the church in order to become one of its most vocal critics. She is expected Monday to testify for the Senate “Crash”Director fighting a civil case accusing him rape.
Haggis’ lawyer Priya Chaudhry argued Friday that the defense should be allowed to call Remini as an 11th-hour witness to testify about “her personal experience with the various tactics used [by Scientology] to destroy her.”
Before the trial began, Haggis’ team won the right to argue that the church was somehow behind the suit brought by former events publicist Haleigh Breest, though they have yet to produce any evidence or testimony making that connection directly.
Judge Sabrina Kraus heard Chaudry’s argument to bring Remini aboard as a last-minute material and character witness – and the judge agreed. Remini, cohost of the 2016 documentary series “Scientology and the Aftermath,”He was scheduled to join the court via videoconference on Monday morning.
“She was born into Scientology and also sort of born into Hollywood, and in both of those communities she is very familiar with Mr. Haggis’ reputation regarding any aggression or violence towards women,”Chaudhry argued.
Last week, Remini – a Haggis supporter from the start who has openly called the accusations “suspect” – blasted out a 36-tweet threadThe case for the “Scientology defense”Before the idea that she might have been a witness was even raised, She backed claims that Haggis witnesses – and witnesses in the separate criminal rape trial of current Scientologist Danny Masterson – have made saying church members are forbidden from reporting crimes against one another.
Breest’s lawyers argued against Remini’s inclusion, saying it would only duplicate previous testimony from her “Aftermath”Mike Rinder, co-host. Rinder spoke at length for the jury last month about Scientology’s alleged relentless smear tactics against its “enemies,”However, he did not see any connection to the Breest lawsuit.
Breest testified last week that after she accepted Haggis’ ride home from a New York film premiere, in February 2013, he forced her to go to his apartment. Things spiralled quickly out of control and she was eventually raped.
Since Breest’s 2017 lawsuit, Haggis has maintained that the sex was voluntary. He testified that Breest was initially hesitant about going physical. “seemed to be having a really good time,”I initiated one of their kissing sessions. It was hilarious, smiling, and I was the one who started it. “playful”During their only sexual encounter.
Haggis was present Friday to give a second cross-examination. Attorney Ilann Maazel asked him questions about the hours leading to the alleged assault and showed a photo of Catherine Zeta Jones and Haggis embracing at an afterparty for his 2013 movie. “Side Effects.”
“You didn’t think Catherine Zeta-Jones was romantically interested in you did you?” Maazel asked.
Haggis replied no.
“She was just being friendly in your opinion?” Maazel asked.
Breest was working as a publicist for Cinema Society, the event’s host. Haggis stated that the two met after many months of being apart. “flirtatious” emails.
“We met and hugged but not at the door,”Haggis said.
Maazel also interrogated Haggis regarding his interpretation of the word “No.”
“While you were trying to pull off Ms. Breest’s tights, Ms. Breest said the word ‘No,’ correct?”
“Yes, she used the word,” Haggis replied.
“As a part of a sentence, yes,” Haggis testified. He said in his Thursday testimony that Breest was uncomfortable with her body and didn’t want him to see, so he turned the lights down.
“According to you, she did not say ‘No’ in the way that one means ‘No,’ correct?” Maazel asked.
“She did not say ‘No,’ as in ‘Stop,’ that’s correct,” Haggis replied.
Haggis’ lawyers also called Gian Schwehr, who worked as his assistant for more than 20 years. Schwehr testified that the alleged assaults were not consistent with her knowledge of his conduct, and that she’d never seen him act inappropriately toward women.
Asked if the case changed her opinion of him, she said it did not – because “that doesn’t match.”
The trial is rapidly moving towards a conclusion. Closing arguments are expected next week.
Last month, the judge declared to the jury that Breest was not a Scientologist. The church has also vehemently denied any involvement in Haggis’ case.
“The Church has nothing to do with the claims against Haggis nor does it have any relation to the attorneys behind the case of the accusers,”The church made the statement in a statement. “The Church has nothing to do with the claims against Haggis nor does it have any relation to his accusers.”