Paul Haggis Accuser Displays Dress She Wore the Night of Alleged Rape, Says Director ‘Should Be Held Accountable’

Haleigh Breest wrapped her testimony Tuesday with a final dramatic flourish

Paul Haggis
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 28: Paul Haggis attends the "I, Tonya" New York premiere after party on November 28, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

In a dramatic flourish to wrap her time on the witness stand, Haleigh Breest, the former events publicist accusing “Crash” director Paul Haggis of raping her in 2013, brought out the long black dress she says she wore the night of the alleged assault.

Her lawyer, Zoe Salzman, opened a zippered bag, pulled out the dress and held it up on a clothes-hanger for the jury to see.

“Did this dress rip when Mr. Haggis pulled it off?” Salzman asked her client, who was on the stand for a final time in the civil case.

Breest replied that it had not. She did not bring forth the pair of tights she says she also preserved from that night, and had indicated earlier that Haggis had ripped those.

Haggis’ lawyer Priya Chaudhry used the moment as an opening to get into Breest’s motivation for the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages. New York state recently lifted the statute of limitations on rape cases.

“You understand you could go to the police if you wanted to?” Chaudhry asked.

Breest testified that she was concerned that police would mishandle an investigation, and that the civil process gave her more control of the case and its outcome.

“Are you worried police won’t believe you because of the text messages?” Chaudhry pressed. Breest replied she was not.

Chaudhry was referencing Breest’s texts to friends the day after the alleged rape, talking casually about the encounter and riffing on the feminist revenge-fantasy film “First Wives Club” (“I just want to get even and not be a victim … As they said in first wives club Don’t get mad get everything,” she wrote).

“But instead you’re asking this jury to give you Mr. Haggis’s money?”

“Yes,” she replied.

Breest had a different answer when her own lawyer left the question of her motivations open-ended. 

“Why are you here, Ms. Breest?” Salzman asked her client.

“Because Mr. Haggis should be held accountable for the harm he caused me.”

Breest first filed her lawsuit against Haggis in 2017. She said last week from the stand that Haggis pressured her after a movie premiere to come to his Manhattan apartment in 2013, where he kissed, groped and pestered her before ultimately forcing her into unwanted sex acts.

Haggis says the encounters were all consensual, denies wrongdoing and has suggested that his acrimonious split from Scientology has driven the church to frame him. Breest testified Friday that she has no connection to the church and is not being supported in any way by Scientology.