A jury has indicted filmmaker Paul Haggis in a sexual assault case involving a former publicist

A jury has indicted filmmaker Paul Haggis in a sexual assault case involving a former publicist


A jury has found filmmaker Paul Haggis liable in a sexual assault lawsuit brought by a former publicist who alleged he raped her after a movie premiere in 2013.

A jury ordered the Oscar-winning screenwriter Thursday to pay Haley Brest at least $7.5 million in damages, according to attorneys for both Brest and Haggis.

Brest brought the suit under the New York City Victims of Gender-motivated Violence Protection Act.

Attorney Ilan Mazel, who represents Brest, told CNN by phone, “We are grateful. We are grateful. The jury was methodical and did justice today. We are proud, not just of Haley, but of the entire #MeToo movement.”

In a statement to CNN, Haggis’ attorney, Priya Chowdhury, said, “We are disappointed and shocked by the verdict.”

“Once the judge allowed the statements of the other 4 women it was impossible for Mr. Haggis to get a fair trial who never went to the police, never took any action against him and 3 of the 4 never showed up in the courtroom.” The attorney added. “They used the ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ tactics to distort the truth, assassinate the character of Mr Haggis, paint him as a monster. In that situation, no one could have been given a fair trial in that court. This is a shameful exploitation of the #MeToo movement where political sentiment trumps truth.”

Brest alleges that Haggis sexually assaulted her in his Manhattan apartment on the evening of Jan. 31, 2013, when she was 26 — “less than half Mr. Haggis’ age,” according to the complaint filed in the state Supreme Court branch in New York County in 2017.

“The mental and emotional damage to Ms. Brest from the assault is incalculable: it has been profound and long-lasting,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, the incident happened after Haggis and Brest were at a movie premiere. At the end of the event, Haggis offered Brest a ride home, the complaint alleges.

Once in his car, Haggis invites Brest for a drink.

“Mr. Brest told him he was willing to go to a public bar, but said he did not want to go to her apartment. Mr. Haggis insisted they go to his apartment,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Brest “relaxed” after “experiencing her persistence” and admitting that she was “a powerful member of the Hollywood elite who could influence her career.”

The complaint alleges that Haggis made unwanted sexual advances and forcibly kissed her.

“He wouldn’t stop when she repeatedly told him ‘no,'” the complaint said.

Haggis took Brest into the bedroom where he forced himself on her and eventually raped her despite her attempts to push him away, the complaint alleges.

Mazel told CNN that the punitive damages trial will likely continue Monday where he expects Haggis to take the stand.

Haggis is a director, producer and screenwriter. His film credits include “Crash,” which won him the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the 2006 Academy Awards. He also received a nomination for the screenplay for the multi-Oscar winning “Million Dollar Baby”.

He was a filmmaker Arrested in Italy She was accused of sexual harassment earlier this year when she went there to attend a film festival. An attorney for Haggis denied the allegations.

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