– During the trial, attorneys for each party has seemingly agreed there’s ‘no evidence’ to suggest Breest has ties to Scientology, but…
On Thursday, Variety reported that Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning director, has been found liable on all counts by a jury in a civil rape trial in New York.
“The jury deliberated for nearly six hours and the unanimous jury of four men and two women awarded the plaintiff Haleigh Breest $7.5 million in compensation and recommended punitive damages, which will be decided Monday,” reported Rebecca Rubin and Antonio Ferme. “The decision concludes the three-week trial, which hinged on allegations made by Breest, who sued Haggis in 2017, claiming the filmmaker forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her in his Soho apartment. Breest was working as a freelancer at the 2013 event, which Haggis attended as a guest. Though he doesn’t deny the encounter took place, Haggis maintains it was consensual.”
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“During closing arguments on Wednesday, Haggis’ attorney Priya Chaudhry tried to combat Breest’s claims by suggesting she’s after revenge and money,” said the report. “But in Breest’s testimony, she says only filed the lawsuit after she saw Haggis condemned Harvey Weinstein in the press after the producer was accused of sexual assault in 2017. ‘I want Paul Haggis to be held accountable that what he did to me was wrong,’ Breest testified last month.”
“In her hours-long testimony, Breest, who was 26 at the time, says she reluctantly agreed to have a drink at the director’s apartment after he denied her suggestion to go to a public bar,” the report continued. “She recalled feeling ‘absolutely paralyzed and terrified’ as the then 59-year-old Haggis kissed her against her will and took her into a bedroom, where the alleged sexual assault transpired.”
Earlier in the trial, Haggis’ legal team called actress Leah Remini to testify that the accusations were an orchestrated plot by the Church of Scientology to bring him down, after Haggis had made an outspoken condemnation of the secretive institution in 2009.
However, said the report, “During the trial, attorneys for each party has seemingly agreed there’s ‘no evidence’ to suggest Breest has ties to Scientology, but the defense claims the reason there’s no tangible proof is because the church doesn’t leave behind fingerprints. Breest’s team has chalked up the argument to a conspiracy theory.”