‘Crash’ Director Paul Haggis Sued for Alleged Rape, Countersues Claiming Extortion Scheme

Director Paul Haggis speaks onstage during the Paul Haggis & Friends panel at The Town Hall during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York)
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning director of Crash, has been sued for $9 million by publicist Haleigh Breest over an alleged 2013 rape. Haggis has responded by declaring the suit a shakedown and has already filed a countersuit for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Breest claims that after a film premiere, Haggis took her back to his New York apartment. According to Variety, she says that after he kissed her without her consent he said, “You’re scared of me, aren’t you?”

At this point she “realized she was unable to escape the apartment. Haggis brought her to the bedroom, where he ripped off her tights, and forced her to perform oral sex, according to the suit. She said she repeatedly said no, but that Haggis violently raped her, and that she passed out.”

Last summer, according to Breest, she started to see a therapist who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder. But it was not until she learned that Haggis had condemned Harvey Weinstein that she decided to file the suit.

“The truth she knows and has lived is that behind the façade of these comments lies another predator, a man willing to force himself on a young woman less than half his age and take pleasure in the fear and pain he caused her,” the lawsuit reads. “Ms. Breest will not look the other way any longer.”

Haggis received the unfiled suit in November. On a phone call with Breest’s lawyer in mid-December, the demand was allegedly made for the $9 million.

The countersuit not only charges Breest with extortion, but claims that due to a back surgery Haggis had around this time, he could not have physically forced himself on anyone.

Deadline describes the Haggis countersuit as “odd” and often-purple” with references to the criticism Haggis received after leaving and becoming an outspoken critic of Scientology. Also mentioned are the “Plaintiff’s extensive charitable efforts, which support thousands of children in impoverished communities.”

Haggis describes the current culture as a “public hanging” where “headlines pour down like rain every day with ‘explosive’ new claims and allegations of sexual misconduct and impropriety, particularly targeted at the Hollywood male ‘elite.’”

Referencing the charitable work again, the Haggis lawsuit wants the court to know that “it is one thing to live in fear of losing one’s career, but quite another to bear the anxiety caused by the knowledge that Defendant’s threats could destroy Plaintiff’s ability to continue to effectively raise money for these children.”


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