Paul Haggis was ordered to pay an additional $2.5 million in punitive damages to a publicist who accused him of rape, bringing her total award to $10 million after a Manhattan civil jury found the Oscar-winning “Crash” director liable for sexually assaulting her in 2013.
Jurors heard testimony about Haggis’ finances before determining the additional award Monday. Before the trial began, Haggis said in court filings that he as already “financially ruined” from having to defend the civil lawsuit filed in 2017 by Haleigh Breest.
The former freelance events publicist accused Haggis of pressuring her to come up to his apartment following a movie premiere where she was working and he was a VIP guest, then forcing her to perform oral sex and raping her. Haggis testified that the encounter was entirely consensual.
Four other women gave testimony and depositions describing similar encounters with Haggis. The same jury of six people decided last week that Breest’s account was credible enough for a monetary award, though no jail time or other penalties were on the table in the civil matter.
The jury reached its verdict in favor of Breest on Thursday to the tune of $7.5 million in compensatory damages for suffering.
Haggis was questioned about his earnings for “Crash,” as well as screenwriting success for “Million Dollar Baby,” “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.” He told the jury he had made something like $25 million over the course of his career – but that was before taxes, agency fees and losses from two divorces.
He said after Breest’s allegations, he got a few rewriting jobs here and there, but that now “I will never work as a writer until I clear my name.”
More to come …