The Oscar-winning Crash director and outspoken ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis has denied multiple accusations of sexual assault, and suggested that the Church of Scientology might somehow be behind the allegations.
After a publicist filed a civil suit last month claiming Haggis raped her, three more women have come forward accusing the Million Dollar Baby director of sexual misconduct as recently as 2015, and one of those women has also accused him of rape.
The woman who sued Haggis has been identified in court records as Haleigh Breest. Haggis has filed a counter-suit against Breest claiming she and her attorneys asked for a multi-million dollar payout, and accusing her of extortion.
Three of the recent accusers spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The alleged encounters took place between 1996 and 2015. The scenarios share a commonality in that Haggis allegedly met with the women alone on the pretense of discussing projects or the women’s careers, and tried to force himself on them. Two of the women managed to escape, but one woman claims Haggis forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her in her office.
That woman was 28 at the time and working as a publicist on a TV show Haggis was producing. He allegedly asked her to meet at her office at night to discuss the campaign.
“I thought it was odd, but I agreed. He was the ultimate boss. I didn’t feel inclined to say no,” she told the Associated Press.
She claims that as soon as they were alone, Haggis tried to kiss her and she resisted.
“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? … And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb. I didn’t know what to do.”
The woman claims he then sexually assaulted her.
Haggis’s attorney Christine Lepera denied the allegations to the Hollywood Reporter.
“He didn’t rape anybody,” she said.
Lepera gave a full statement on her client’s behalf, suggesting that the Church of Scientology might have a role in the allegations. The following is the statement in full:
Mr. Haggis denies these anonymous claims in whole.
In a society where one of a person’s fundamental rights is the ability to confront an accuser, that right has now been eviscerated when it comes to anyone being charged in the press with any sort of sexual misconduct.
Notably, no one has reached out to anyone on Mr. Haggis’ team other than the press to report this.
He views the fact that these reports appear to be spearheaded from the law-firm representing Ms. Breest, as a further tactic to try to harm him and continue their effort to obtain money.
Mr. Haggis also questions whether Scientology has any role here, which he notes has been attacking him for years with false accusations.
We reiterate our claim against Ms. Breest, and note again that we initiated the legal proceedings, not Ms. Breest.
The Associated Press notes that all of the accusers interviewed for the latest report have denied any connection to Scientology.
[Feature image: Associated Press]