Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning filmmaker of ‘Crash,’ accused of sexual assaulthttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/01/
Three new women have accused filmmaker Paul Haggis of sexual misconduct, the Associated Press reported Friday afternoon. The accusations follow a civil lawsuit filed in December against Haggis, 64, by New York publicist Haleigh Breest, who says he raped her in 2013.
Haggis is best known as the director, producer and co-writer of 2004’s “Crash,” which netted him two Oscars, for writing and best picture. He was also nominated for writing “Million Dollar Baby” and co-writing “Letters From Iwo Jima,” and he recently directed the 2015 HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero.”
The new accusers, who were in their late 20s or 30s when the incidents reportedly occurred, all told the AP that Haggis tried to forcibly kiss them. One woman said he attempted to sexually assault her in the late 2000s, and another said he followed her into a taxi after forcibly kissing her on a street corner in 2015. (She told the AP that she managed to escape, though he harassed her via text messages until she blocked him.)
The third, who worked as a publicist in 1996 on a TV show Haggis produced, said he forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her after their colleagues had left work for the night.
“I just pulled away. He was just glaring at me and came at me again. I was really resisting,” the third woman told the AP. “He said to me, ‘Do you really want to continue working?’ And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb.”
When asked for comment on the new accusations, Haggis’s attorney, Christine Lepera, told the AP, “He didn’t rape anybody.”
Haggis sued Breest in December, according to the Hollywood Reporter, claiming that she was extorting him for $9 million.
“The clear goal of defendant’s demand for such an absurd amount of money from plaintiff is to scare him into giving this windfall to her to avoid his public hanging,” Lepera wrote in the lawsuit. “Defendant thinks she can capitalize on the current headlines, believing she will have to prove nothing, and will only have to threaten to destroy plaintiff.”
Breest countered with her own lawsuit, according to the Hollywood Reporter. She says Haggis raped her at his apartment in SoHo after the 2013 premiere of the Steven Soderbergh movie “Side Effects.”
Breest’s lawyers provided a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday in response to Haggis’s claims.
“In our system of justice, those who have been wronged have the clear right to seek redress and hold those responsible accountable for their misconduct,” said Jonathan Abady of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP. “In an act of remarkable hubris, Mr. Haggis has the temerity to claim that he, not her, was the victim. It is a preposterous and transparent PR stunt that will not succeed. Ms. Breest will not be intimidated or deterred from seeking justice.”