UPDATED with punitive damages, 1:45 PM: The jury in Paul Haggis’ sexual assault civil trial at present ordered him to pay $2.5 million in punitive damages to plaintiff Haleigh Breest. Added to the $7.5 million it awarded Thursday, when he was discovered liable, the Crash double Oscar winner now faces $10 million in damages.
Learn particulars of the case beneath.
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Exterior court docket, Haggis vowed mentioned: “Right this moment the jury realized what the opposing counsel has identified for years, which is that I’ve spent all the cash I’ve at my disposal. I’ve gutted my pension plan. I’ve lived on loans so as to pay for this case in a really naíve perception in justice. Properly, now we’ll see what the appeals court docket will say. As a result of we’ll completely enchantment. I can’t dwell with lies like this; I’ll die clearing my title.”
His legal professional, Priya Chuadhry, mentioned outdoors the courtroom: “All through this trial we weren’t allowed to inform the jury that Mr. Haggis is mainly penniless, and now the world is aware of. And we stay up for clearing his title.”
Breest made no feedback outdoors court docket, however her attorneys Ilann Maazel and Zoe Saldana later launched a press release: “”Within the wake of Friday’s determination to carry Mr. Haggis chargeable for his actions, we’re happy to see the jury proceed to acknowledge the harms achieved to our consumer by awarding her punitive damages. Their determination sends a strong message that Mr. Haggis’ reprehensible conduct won’t be tolerated in any method. We’re pleased with our consumer, Haleigh Breest, for the braveness she confirmed in bringing this case ahead and publicly sharing the reality of what occurred to her. We hope the jury’s determination right here units a precedent for a way different #MeToo circumstances are determined shifting ahead.”
PREVIOUSLY, November 10: A New York jury at present discovered filmmaker Paul Haggis liable on all three counts of rape and sexual abuse in his therapy of Haleigh Breest, who left a celebration in Manhattan with him in 2013 after which sued the Crash Oscar winner in 2017 claiming he repeatedly pressured intercourse on her in his residence that evening.
The unanimous jury of 4 males and two girls — whose make-up modified on the primary day of deliberations — deliberated for practically six hours within the civil trial earlier than awarding Breest $7.5 million in compensation. It additionally really helpful punitive damages, the quantity of which might be determined Monday, November 14.
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Seated between his attorneys, Haggis — who faces no jail time as a result of this was not a prison continuing — regarded straight forward because the verdicts had been learn. He then stood along with his three grownup daughters and hugged certainly one of them, who was crying.
Standing along with his lawyer Priya Chaudhry and his members of the family outdoors the courthouse, Haggis mentioned: “I’m clearly very disenchanted within the outcomes. And I’m going to proceed to, with my crew, battle to clear my title. We’re going to maintain our choices as to what we’re going to do.”
Breest hugged her attorneys and mentioned as she exited that she was “very grateful.” She later launched a press release by way of her attorneys: “I’m grateful that I had the chance to hunt justice and accountability in court docket — and that the jury selected to observe the information — and believed me. The best supply of consolation by way of this 5 yr authorized journey has been the assist I felt from the ladies who bravely shared their very own tales and let me know I wasn’t alone.”
Breest’s attorneys Zoe Salzman and Ilann Maazel mentioned in a press release: “We’re happy to see justice served for our consumer, Haleigh Breest. After the jury heard a mountain of plain proof towards Mr. Haggis, they did the suitable factor and held him accountable for his deplorable conduct. We commend Ms. Breest for the bravery it took to come back ahead. She stood up for herself and for all girls.”
Additionally within the hallway, Breest paused to hug her former therapist, Catherine Baker-Pitts, who handled Breest in 2017-19 and testified in the course of the trial that Breest was affected by signs of trauma.
“Justice was served,” Baker-Pitts mentioned of the decision, including that Breest stepped “out of her consolation zone” to pursue the case, “and she or he trusted within the system.”
Baker-Pitts, who was Breest’s most seen and infrequently solely supporter within the courtroom, mentioned she hopes the end result will assist Breest “restore a sense of security on the earth,” and encourage “religion within the energy of talking up — that it was price it.”
Right this moment’s verdicts had been the most recent judgment in a spate of circumstances rising out of a #MeToo motion that has referred to as out highly effective males within the leisure business as sexual abusers. The jury was requested to determine whether or not Haggis was certainly one of them. Breest and her attorneys sought to show that Haggis had pressured her to undergo intercourse and to carry out oral intercourse on him and pushed his fingers within her whilst she mentioned “no.”
She spent 4 days in whole on the stand describing the encounter and defending her interpretation of it towards a skeptical cross-examination by a lawyer for Haggis, Priya Chaudhry. In closing arguments on Wednesday, Chaudhry requested jurors to make use of their “fabulous New York frequent sense” to see by way of Breest’s story.
Jurors dominated on three particular expenses: first-degree rape and two third-degree expenses of intercourse abuse and a prison sexual act below New York regulation. About one hour into their deliberations, jurors requested the choose for a number of items of trial testimony and proof together with texts between Breest and the pal she contacted first, and deposition testimony by Breest and Haggis discussing vaginal intercourse.
Breest and Haggis each had testified that they went again to his residence after a movie-screening celebration on Jan. 31, 2013, the place Haggis, then 59, was a VIP visitor and Breest, then 26, was working as a contract publicist. Each agreed that Haggis turned a suggestion of a experience house for Breest in his employed automotive into an invite to his place, and that she deflected the invitation at first by suggesting they as a substitute go to a bar. She then agreed to go house with him however mentioned she wouldn’t keep the evening, each testified.
Their testimony diverged from there. Breest mentioned she felt “pressured” to spend time after work with Haggis, a frequent visitor at occasions placed on by her boss, who fired her after she filed the lawsuit. Haggis testified that he and Breest had been flirting all evening, had been genuinely concerned about one another and that Breest was playfully letting him know she was open to intercourse with him even when she wasn’t planning to remain over.
Haggis testified that the intercourse was consensual and, to one of the best of his reminiscence, confined to oral intercourse that Breest initiated. He mentioned that Breest by no means portrayed the encounter to him as the rest till her lawsuit virtually 5 years later on the peak of the #MeToo motion, after Haggis had referred to as film producer Harvey Weinstein a “predator” as girls within the movie business had been coming ahead with accounts of Weinstein sexually brutalizing them.
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He has referred to as the case a vendetta by the Church of Scientology, a secretive and rich non secular motion based by a science fiction novelist. Haggis give up the church in 2009 with harsh phrases for its strategies and spoke at size about his journey by way of and out of Scientology for a New Yorker profile and an HBO documentary.
His protection attorneys didn’t produce a single witness or piece of documentation in court docket linking any of his accusers on to the church, however in closing arguments on Wednesday, Haggis lawyer Chaudhry mentioned jurors ought to contemplate the “sturdy circumstantial proof” of a Scientology function in accusations which have “totally destroyed him.”
The jury heard from about two dozen witnesses in all, together with Haggis, Breest and 4 Jane Does — Deadline will not be naming them — who mentioned Haggis sexually assaulted them, or tried to, in separate incidents between 1996 and 2015 after utilizing completely different ruses to get them alone. They don’t seem to be events to the lawsuit towards Haggis, however a lawyer for Breest, Ilann Maazel, mentioned in closing arguments that they “give some perception into what his intent actually was” when he took Breest house. Maazel referred to as Haggis a “psychopath” who deliberate and orchestrated his assault of Breest simply as he had achieved with the opposite 4 girls.
There have been dueling specialists on reminiscence, trauma and attitudes in the direction of rape victims — each with hyperlinks to courtroom circumstances that accused Weinstein and the actor Kevin Spacey of sexual abuse. Two spinal surgeons supplied contrasting views on whether or not Haggis was even able to initiating forcible intercourse towards somebody resisting him bodily, provided that he was nonetheless recovering from an operation to restore two ruptured discs in his again.
Chaudhry, in a grinding, hours-long cross-examination that left Breest in tears, sought to point out jurors that the rape as she claimed it occurred was equal components “fantasy,” as Chaudhry put it in closing arguments, and “not bodily potential.” She mentioned Breest had a number of alternatives to depart Haggis’ residence, and as a substitute she spent the evening.
Chaudhry depicted Breest as a troubled and emotionally immature girl who mistook “an ungainly one-night stand” with a well-known, completed Hollywood determine for one thing extra, and felt humiliated when he confirmed no additional curiosity.
Chaudhry mentioned Breest’s texts to buddies afterward, and emails to Haggis, present her response evolving from pleasure at having spent the evening with him to confusion at his disinterest, after which remorse and humiliation that led her to recast what occurred as rape.
One textual content from Breest learn, “As they are saying within the first wives membership don’t get mad get all the things,” referencing the 1996 revenge-comedy film The First Wives Membership.
“She’s not upset about what occurred in Paul Haggis’ residence that evening,” Chaudhry mentioned. “She’s upset that he by no means invited her again.”
Jurors additionally heard from a string of protection witnesses with connections to the Church of Scientology, together with the previous King of Queens star Leah Remini, who additionally hosted the Emmy-winning documentary tv collection, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
Remini and different former Scientologists, together with Haggis’ daughter Alissa, advised jurors that the church by no means forgives its enemies and makes use of litigation and impossible-to-trace covert operations to undermine them. One ex-Scientist, a documentary movie producer, mentioned that shortly after Haggis left the church, a high-ranking Scientologist referred to as her for assist digging up dust on him however she refused.
“It’s the right protection,” Maazel scoffed in his closing. “There’s no proof of it, so it should be true.”
An ex-wife of Haggis, singer and actress Deborah Rennard, testified that Haggis was untrue and had greater than 20 affairs throughout their marriage however by no means was violent. Three different girls mentioned they continue to be buddies with Haggis though they rejected his passes or romantic curiosity.
Haggis himself mentioned on the stand, “I’m a really flawed human being,” however denied raping or making an attempt to drive himself sexually on anybody.
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