Monday Jan 30, 2023
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Filmmaker Paul Haggis loses civil rape trial

2022 Nov 11, 8:07, Washington
Filmmaker Paul Haggis Photo: ANI

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis will have to pay USD 7.5 million in compensation as he has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a former film publicist following a movie premiere premiere nearly a decade ago.

According to Variety, Haggis lost his civil rape trial on Friday after a New York jury found the filmmaker liable on all three counts of rape and sexual abuse.

The unanimous jury consisting of four men and two women deliberated for nearly six hours and awarded the plaintiff USD 7.5 million in compensation and recommended punitive damages, which will be decided on Monday, shared the outlet.

The verdict brings to an end the three-week trial that focused on the accusations. She sued Haggis in 2017 on the grounds that the director had forced her into having oral sex with him before raping her at his Soho apartment.

Following the verdict, as she exited, the plaintiff said she was "very grateful that I had the opportunity to seek justice and accountability in court -- and that the jury chose to follow the facts -- and believed me."

She 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.

The plaintiff testified that she had reluctantly agreed to have a drink at Haggis' apartment after he denied her suggestion to go to a public bar. After that she recalled Haggis kissing her against her will and taking her into a bedroom, where the alleged sexual assault took place.

However, in Haggis' testimony, he alleged that she appeared to be very interested in him and voluntarily performed oral sex on him after stating she is "very good at this."

He claimed that she was giving off "mixed signals" at his apartment and says he had "no memory" of engaging in sexual intercourse with her that night.

Haggis' attorney Priya Chaudhry tried to combat her claims during the closing arguments by suggesting that she's after revenge and money. "This trial is not about justice for her. This is a blatant cash grab," she said, reported Variety.

Further, the Church of Scientology was also frequently mentioned because Haggis and his attorneys alleged the rape accusation by the plaintiff was brought against the director as retaliation for the filmmaker's decision to depart from -- and outspokenly criticise -- the controversial religion in 2009.

Attorneys on both sides, nevertheless, appeared to accept that there is "no proof" to support her affiliation with Scientology, as per Variety.

Meanwhile, last month, a former freelance television producer testified that Paul Haggis assaulted and attempted to rape her at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

According to Variety, the woman claimed that Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer and director of 'Crash,' sexually pursued her before she fled into her apartment building following the TIFF event.


Paul Haggis compensation film publicist movie premiere sexual abuse oral sex rape sexual intercourse
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