Jury choice is ready to start Monday within the lawsuit accusing Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis of raping a publicist in New York Metropolis almost a decade in the past.
Accuser Haleigh Breest filed go well with in opposition to the “Crash” filmmaker in 2017 alleging that he raped her in his Soho condominium after a movie premiere on Jan. 13, 2013.
The civil trial – the place Haggis faces financial damages and no jail time – is slated to final roughly two weeks. Opening remarks are set to start Wednesday.
The case will rise and fall on the 2 facet’s opposing testimony about whether or not the encounter was consensual.
The 69-year-old “Million Greenback Child” screenwriter is listed as a protection witness.
His accuser is ready to testify — as are 4 extra ladies who’ve accused Haggis of sexual assault however who don’t have circumstances in opposition to him.
Breest and Haggis have been bitterly duking it out in courtroom for roughly 5 years – together with combating over what testimony and proof the jury ought to be offered with.
Breest was 26-years-old and dealing as a publicist who deliberate movie premieres and events within the Massive Apple when she was allegedly raped by the filmmaker, based on her go well with from December 2017.
Breest (proper) — a publicist — claims the encounter occurred on Jan. 13, 2013 after a movie premiere that Haggis attended as a star visitor.Photograph by BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan by way of Getty Photographs
Haggis, after attending a film premiere on the Higher West Facet as a star visitor, supplied to offer Breest a journey residence on the finish of the night time, her go well with claimed.
However as an alternative of bringing her residence, Haggis allegedly pressured Breest to come back to his Mercer Road condominium for a drink – over her protestations that they go to a bar as an alternative, she alleged.
Breest says within the go well with that she succumbed to his strain since Haggis “was a robust member of the Hollywood elite who might affect her profession.”
The Oscar-winning director has maintained that the encounter was consensual.Photograph by Andres Iglesias Rodriguez/Getty Photographs
As soon as inside, Haggis allegedly began kissing her whereas she repeatedly informed him no, she claimed.
Haggis pressured Breest into his bed room and “violently” tried to get her tights off which he ultimately did, the go well with claimed. He then pressured her to offer him oral intercourse, pressured his fingers inside her, mentioned he preferred anal intercourse after which raped her, the go well with costs.
Haggis doesn’t dispute the pair had intercourse, however he has maintained that the encounter was consensual.
Breest additionally claimed that Haggis had a historical past of sexual abuse together with of 4 different alleged victims – which she says will assist show her case.
Breest (left) filed go well with in 2017 accusing Haggis of raping her one time in his Manhattan condominium.Photograph by NEIL RASMUS/Patrick McMullan by way of Getty Photographs
Final month, Manhattan Supreme Courtroom Justice Sabrina Kraus – who will likely be presiding over the trial – dominated that jurors can hear testimony from the opposite ladies.
Kraus, nevertheless, banned testimony about Haggis’ latest rape arrest in Italy for the reason that “allegations haven’t been sustained and have been deemed inadequate to maintain [Haggis] beneath arrest,” based on her choice.
The choose additionally dominated that Haggis will likely be allowed to current proof that he believes will show that the Church of Scientology was behind what he claims are bogus sexual assault accusations in opposition to him.
Haggis – who left Scientology in 2009 after 30 years – claims the church had a vendetta in opposition to him for talking out in opposition to it.
4 different ladies have accused Haggis of sexual assault and are anticipated to testify.Photograph by Toby Canham/Getty Photographs
Kraus mentioned Haggis is entitled to current his protection argument that the church was “looking for to embroil Haggis in ruinous, false allegations concerning ladies previous to Breest’s allegations” – and that her claims have been a part of that very same alleged scheme.
Nonetheless, the choose mentioned that Haggis can not deliver up at trial his since-dismissed lawsuit in opposition to Breest alleging she mounted false accusations in opposition to him in an try to extort him for $9 million.
Haggis can also’t point out the truth that he introduced his extortion allegations to the Manhattan District Lawyer’s Workplace – which by no means introduced a case in opposition to Breest – the choose dominated.
Legal professionals on each side informed The Publish their purchasers are looking forward to the trial to start and for the reality to come back out.
“Haleigh Breest has needed to wait a few years to carry Paul Haggis accountable and we’re keen now for the reality to be revealed at trial,” mentioned Breest’s lawyer Zoe Salzman.
Haggis’ lawyer Priya Chaudhry mentioned her consumer “has endured a relentless marketing campaign of public humiliation falsely portray him as some kind of Harvey Weinstein character,” whereas re-iterating his extortion claims and that he introduced these allegations to the DA’s Workplace.
“After dropping his repute, profession, and livelihood, Paul Haggis’ well-funded and highly effective enemies have virtually succeeded in destroying him,” Chaudhry mentioned in a press release.
“On Monday, after 5 years of making an attempt to get his case to trial, he’ll lastly have the chance to current the proof he has been prevented from revealing and can clear his identify.”