Writer and director Paul Haggis, who won Oscars for his films Million Dollar Baby and Crash, has been accused of rape by two women and of sexual misconduct by two others. The initial charge came from a lawsuit filed December 15th by publicist Haleigh Breest. Breest alleges that Haggis raped her in 2013 after inviting her into his apartment for a drink. From the Associated Press:
Quickly, Haggis became “sexually aggressive,” she said in her lawsuit, and began kissing her.
She was “petrified and felt paralyzed,” the suit said, when Haggis asked her, “You’re scared of me, aren’t you?”
Haggis then forced her into a bedroom and onto a bed and tried to tear off her tights, she said. She called out “no,” but he wouldn’t stop, she said.
He forced her to perform oral sex on him, he fondled her, asked if she liked anal sex, then raped her, according to the lawsuit.
Haggis responded forcefully to the accusation by Breest, filing his own counter-suit which claims she demanded $9 million from him prior to filing the lawsuit. He also claims it would have been impossible for him to force himself on Breest because he had just undergone back surgery a short time before the alleged encounter. From Deadline:
“Plaintiff had surgery to correct that medical issue shortly before the night Defendant claimed this ‘violence’ occurred, requiring him to wear a post-surgical back brace continuously at the time,” the paperwork says. “He was under a restriction against severe exertion and was unable to lift anything more than a light grocery bag during his recovery period.”
But in the wake of the lawsuit by Breest, three more women have come forward to her attorneys, one of whom alleges a very similar encounter. The AP does not name any of the new accusers but describes their accusations in detail. One of the women, who like Breest was also a publicist, claims Haggis asked her to review some photos at night in her office. The rest of the story sounds like a replay of Breest’s allegation:
When Haggis arrived, she said, everyone else had left the office for the night and he insisted they speak in a back office. She said Haggis began kissing her as soon as they walked into the room.
“I just pulled away. He was just glaring at me and came at me again. I was really resisting. He said to me, `Do you really want to continue working?”‘ the woman said. “And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb. I didn’t know what to do.”
She said he made her perform oral sex, then pushed her to the floor and raped her.
When she returned to work the next day, she was so scared of Haggis that she asked a friend to come to work with her, she said.
Her account was corroborated by another friend, who said that in the weeks after the attack the woman lost weight and appeared to be depressed. When she asked what happened, the woman said Haggis had raped her a few weeks earlier, the friend said.
The most recent accusation, from 2015, involves a woman who claims Haggis kissed her on the street and then followed her into a cab when she tried to get away.
Since his big successes in the mid-2000s Haggis wrote the first two installments of the Daniel Craig James Bond films. In 2009, Haggis had a very public split with Scientology which has recently been highlighted on Leah Remini’s show Scientology and the Aftermath. The Associated Press story says of the current accusers, “All the women interviewed denied any connection to Scientology.”