Another Hollywood big wig has been ordered by a jury to pay at least $7.5 million to a woman who accused him of rape. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis is just one of several #MeToo-era cases that have put Hollywood’s power player behavior on trial this fall.
In this particular case jurors also plan to award additional punitive damages.
Haggis is known for writing best picture Oscar winners such as “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash.” The civil court trial pitted Haggis against Haleigh Breest, a publicist. The two met while working at movie premieres in the early 2010s.
After news of the jurors decision was past down Breest celebrated by hugging her lawyer. She told reporters she was “very grateful” for the verdict as she left court.
Breest said in a statement released later that she was thankful “that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me.”
Haggis on the other hand said he was “very disappointed in the results.”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis is ordered to pay $7.5M after a jury found him liable for raping a former film industry publicist.https://t.co/5uajXR0ECU
— Court TV (@CourtTV) November 11, 2022
“I’m going to continue to, with my team, fight to clear my name,” he claimed as he left the courthouse with his three adult daughters.
All of this came to be when allegedly after a screening afterparty in January 2013, Haggis offered Breest a lift home. He then invited her to his New York apartment for a drink.
Breest said Haggis then subjected her to unwanted advances. He then pressured her to perform oral sex and raped her despite her begging him to stop.
However, Haggis has a different tale. He said the publicist was flirtatious and, while sometimes seeming “conflicted,” initiated kisses and oral sex. That their interlude was an entirely consensual interaction. He claims that he can’t recall whether they had sex or not.
It only took a day of deliberation before jurors sided with Breest, who said she suffered psychological and professional consequences from her encounter with Haggis. She began her lawsuit in late 2017.
The Jury award Breest $7.5 million to compensate for her suffering. However, they also concluded that punitive damages should also be awarded.