Paul Haggis will be liable for the damages he caused to Haleigh Breest by forcing her sex in 2013. Thursday’s civil jury decision rejected the claim. “Crash” filmmaker’s three-pronged defense that he and the former publicist had consensual sex, that she was seeking revenge and a payday, and that somehow Scientology was behind it all.
A jury consisting of two men and four women ordered Haggis pay Breest $7.5million. They also recommended punitive damages. The second phase will begin Monday. Haggis claims that the lawsuit, which was on the runway for almost six years, has already cost him his financial life.
After 15 days of testimony, the New York jury began deliberating on Thursday at 9:45 am. They reached their decision just after 4:30 pm. The panel found him liable on all three counts of rape and sexual abuse; because it was a civil trial, Haggis faces no jail or prison time.
“We’re pleased to see justice served for our client, Haleigh Breest,”Ilan Maazel, Zoe Salzman, her lawyers, stated in a statement that they had received from the. “After the jury heard a mountain of undeniable evidence against Mr. Haggis, they did the right thing and held him accountable for his deplorable behavior. We commend Ms. Breest for the bravery it took to come forward. She stood up for herself and for all women.”
On Wednesday, closing arguments presented widely divergent interpretations of what occurred between the “Crash”The former events publicist was the director in February 2013. She accepted a ride from Haggis at the age of 59 after attending a movie premiere afterparty. He was also a VIP guest.
Breest testified that Haggis forced her to go to his apartment to get a drink. He then began to kiss her and make aggressive advances. She claimed that despite her repeated protests, Haggis forced her to come up to his apartment for a drink. He then began kissing her and forcing her to vaginally rape him.
“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,”Breest spoke after the verdict. “The greatest source of comfort through this five-year legal journey has been the support I felt from the women who bravely shared their own stories and let me know I wasn’t alone.”
Haggis maintained that the encounter was consensual from the time Breest filed her lawsuit in 2017, four years after the fact. He testified that the couple hooked up after months and months of flirtatious emails. Breest appeared to be in a coma. “having a good time”She was in his company that night and she smiled, giggled, and could only resist him in a “playful”Before they had sex,
Priya Chaudhry (Haggis defense attorney) presented a new theory during Wednesday’s closing argument. She said Breest was a “spurned lover” who was angling to see Haggis again after their somewhat awkward but innocuous one-night stand – then turned it to a tale of rape after he had decided she was too “emotionally immature”They moved on. She noted their subsequent friendly exchanges – and her absence anytime he showed up on a red carpet with a girlfriend.
Haggis’ lawyer also argued that the ex-Scientologist’s status as an “enemy” of the church was somehow behind Breest’s allegations – and supporting testimony and depositions of three other women who said they were also assaulted or aggressively pursued by the Oscar-winning filmmaker. Haggis insisted that there was no wrongdoing and called two character witnesses, who said that Haggis had made romantic advances at the women that they ignored.
Both sides had reached an agreement that Breest had no relationship to Scientology. But Haggis’ team called several witnesses anyway, including “Scientology and the Aftermath”Mike Rinder and Leah Remini, co-hosts of the show, accused the church in covert operations to kill enemies. This is a deliberate attempt to avoid detection.
Breest’s lawyer dismissed the “Scientology defense” as a conspiracy theory, and the church repeatedly denied any involvement in the former freelance publicist’s case.
Haggis’ case was just one of four prominent post-#MeToo cases working its way through the courts this fall. The trials for Harvey Weinstein, Danny Masterson, Kevin Spacey and Danny Spacey began at the same moment, which is a mere coincidence. It caps a substantial amount of cases that remain from the explosion in #MeToo movements, as well as the October 2017 New York Times bombshell report.
Spacey was found not liable last month for civil damages against Anthony Rapp; the criminal case against Masterson, a current Scientologist, is still getting through prosecution witnesses in Los Angeles; and the Weinstein criminal case, also in L.A., has been cranking through witnesses – with eight women set to testify in all – toward a November or December conclusion.