The civil lawsuit trial against Paul Haggis — filed by a woman who claims the director raped her in 2013 — began today in New York.
Publicist Haleigh Breest alleges that Haggis forced her to perform oral sex and raped her at his apartment following a movie premiere in 2013; Breest filed the civil suit against Haggis in 2017 following his comments condemning producer Harvey Weinstein.
“The hypocrisy of it made her blood boil,” Breest’s lawyer Zoe Salzman said during the opening statements, the Wrap reported.
During opening statements, both Salzman and Haggis’ attorney Priya Chaudhry read Breest’s text messages to friends the day after the alleged rape.
“He was so rough and aggressive. Never, ever again … And I kept saying no,” Salzman noted, while the defense focused on how Breest texted “lol” when she mentioned the oral sex and that following the alleged rape, she told friends, “I don’t care too much. I just hope I don’t now have enemies,” the Associated Press reports.
(Ironically, the Haggis civil trial is taking place in the same court house as the current Kevin Spacey trial.)
Haggis’ team also suggested that the director’s acrimonious split from the Church of Scientology is the catalyst for Breest’s lawsuit, an argument that’s similar to the one also being used in actor (and Scientologist) Danny Masterson’s trial currently taking place in Los Angeles; in that trial, Masterson is facing charges levied by two former members of the church.
“Scientology has nothing to do with this case,” Salzman insisted Wednesday at the Haggis trial. In addition to Breest’s testimony, her lawyers will also call two other women who claim they were sexually assaulted by Haggis to the stand.
Earlier this year, Haggis was detained and arrested following an accusation of repeated sexual assault and aggravated personal injury by an unnamed woman. He remained on house arrest for 16 days before he was released in July while prosecutors determine whether they will continue the investigation. Haggis claims his sexual encounters with the woman were consensual.