A New York jury on Thursday found Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis responsible for raping a publicist in his Manhattan apartment in 2013, ordering him to pay $7.5 million in civil damages. The verdict came after a 15-day trial in state court in Manhattan.
Prosecutor Haleigh Breest alleged in a 2017 lawsuit that Haggis, known for his screenplays for the films "Million Dollar Girl" and "Fatal Accident," raped her after he forced her to join him at his apartment after the film's premiere.
Breest is one of four women who have publicly accused Haggis of se*ual misconduct.
Haggis has denied the allegations.
"I thought I was getting a ride home,"she told jurors. "I agreed to have a drink. What happened never should have happened.
"And it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him and his actions." "I am 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,"Ms.
Breest said. "The behavior showed me that he was somebody who was never going to stop,"another woman testified, saying that Haggis repeatedly tried to kiss her against her will. "Justice was done today,’ Breest’s attorney Ilann M.
Maaze said in an email. "We are so proud of Haleigh. This is a great victory for her and for the entire #MeToo movement." Haggis' lawyer said the trial was not fair because the judge allowed statements from other women who accused Haggis but never took any action against him.
"They used this to distort the truth, assassinate Mr. Haggis’ character, paint him as a monster, and use a 'where there’s smoke, there’s fire' strategy," Chaudhry said in a statement. 'I'm going to continue fighting to clear my name, and we're going to keep our options open and see what we're going to do,' Haggis told reporters.
In June, Haggis was arrested by Italian authorities and detained for more than two weeks on charges of se*ual assault and grievous bodily harm. Haggis denied the allegations.