NEW YORK – A jury on Thursday ordered Academy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis to pay at least $7.5 million to a woman who accused him of raping him in one of several #MeToo-era cases. was accused The trial of Hollywood celebrities is going on. Jurors also plan to award additional punitive damages for the fall.
From sex to Scientology’s red-carpet socializing, the civil court has sued Haggis, best known for writing the Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” against Hailey Brest, a publicist who assaulted him while working at a film premiere. had met . In early 2010.
After hugging his lawyers, Brest said he was “very grateful” for the court’s decision to walk out. In a statement released later, he said he was grateful that “the jury chose to follow the facts – and trust me.”
Haggis said he was “very disappointed with the results.”
“I will continue to fight with my team to clear my name,” he said as he left the courtroom with his three adult daughters. A sister cried on the shoulder when the verdict was pronounced.
After a screening afterparty in January 2013, Haggis offered Brest a lift home and invited her to his New York apartment for a drink.
Brest, 36, said Haggis then subjected her to unwanted advances and eventually forced her to perform oral sex and raped her despite her pleas to stop. Haggis, 69, said the preacher was flirtatious and sometimes seemed “controversial”, introducing kissing and oral sex into conversation. He said he did not remember whether they had intercourse or not.
After a day of deliberations, jurors sided with Brest, who said he suffered psychological and professional consequences from his encounter with Haggis. He filed a lawsuit in late 2017.
While awarding him $7.5 million in compensatory damages, the jury concluded that punitive damages should also be awarded. Jurors return Monday for more court proceedings to help them determine that amount.
The verdict comes weeks after another civil jury indicted in federal court next door that Kevin Spacey did not sexually assault fellow actor and then-teenager Anthony Rapp in 1986. Meanwhile, “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson and former film magnate Harvey Weinstein are being tried separately on criminal rape charges in Los Angeles. Both deny the charges, and Weinstein is appealing the conviction in New York.
All four cases prompted calls for condemnation, disclosure and accountability about sexual misconduct in the wake of #MeToo, which began in October 2017 with news reports on decades of allegations against Weinstein.
Brest, in particular, said he decided to sue Haggis because Weinstein’s public condemnation had angered him.
Four other women also testified that they experienced forced, unwanted advances by Haggis in separate encounters in 1996 – and in one case, rape – none of the four took legal action.
The Associated Press typically does not identify people who say they have been sexually harassed until they come forward publicly, as Brest did.
Haggis denied all the allegations. His defense, meanwhile, introduced the jury to several women, including ex-wife and former longtime “Dallas” cast member Deborah Renard — who said the screenwriter-director took it when he revealed his romantic or sexual feelings. Relationship disclosed. rejected
During the three weeks of testimony, the trial examined text messages Brest sent to friends about what happened to Haggis, emails between them before and after the night, and between her testimony and what she told the initial court.
Both sides debated whether Haggis was physically capable of carrying out the alleged attack eight weeks after spinal surgery. Psychologists offer a dialectical perspective on widespread misconceptions about the behavior of rape victims, such as the belief that victims will have no subsequent contact with their assailants.
And the jurors included the Church of Scientology, 1950s science fiction and fantasy writer L. Religion founded by Ron Hubbard. Haggis was a follower for decades before publicly recalling and denouncing Scientology in 2009.
Through the testimony of Haggis and other former members, his defense argued that the church had set him up to defame him and that the trial may have had something to do with it.
None of the witnesses said they knew that Haggis’ accusers or Brest’s lawyers had Scientology ties, and their lawyers admitted that Brest himself did not. Still, Haggis’ lawyer Priya Chaudhary tried to explain to jurors that there were “footprints, though perhaps not fingerprints” of Scientology’s involvement.
The church said in a statement that it had no involvement in the case, arguing that Haggis was trying to embarrass his accusers with “absurd and patently false” claims. Brest’s lawyers, Ilan Mazal and Zoe Salzman, called it an “outrageous and unsupported conspiracy theory”.
Canadian-born Haggis wrote episodes of popular series such as “Different Strokes” and “Thirtysomething” in the 1980s. He made his mark in films with “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash”, which he also directed and co-produced. Each film won Academy Awards for Best Picture in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and Haggis also won a screenwriting Oscar for “Crash.”
His other credits include screenplays for the James Bond films “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.”
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