A film publicist filed a lawsuit on Friday alleging that she was raped by director Paul Haggis in 2013. Haggis also sued the publicist, Haleigh Breest, denying the allegation and accusing her of trying to bankrupt him by extracting a $9 million settlement.
In her suit, Breest alleges that Haggis brought her back to his apartment after a movie premiere. She alleges that he kissed her against her will, and at one point said, “You’re scared of me, aren’t you?” She said 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.
According to Breest, she went to a therapist last summer and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the encounter. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, she said she was outraged to see Haggis condemning Weinstein as a sexual predator.
“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 suit states. “Ms. Breest will not look the other way any longer.”
Haggis filed his own suit Friday afternoon, a few hours before Breest filed hers. In his complaint, Haggis concedes that he had a “friendly, and at times flirtatious, relationship” with Breest. But he adamantly denies her rape allegation.
Haggis states that Breest’s lawyer sent him a letter on Nov. 16, which included her unfiled complaint and invited him to respond if he wanted to reach an out-of-court settlement. In a subsequent phone call on Dec. 11, he said the lawyer demanded $9 million.
Haggis’ suit includes a single claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He asserts that he has suffered severe anxiety, constant fear, and crippling back pain since the allegations were made.
“Defendant’s threatened statements were designed to inflict the utmost terror upon Plaintiff, and were presented in the most graphically lurid (false) ways,” the suit states. “The tactic of using such extreme emotional abuse was clearly designed to best insure the ransom would be paid.”
He also states that as a prominent critic of Scientology, he is used to defending himself from false allegations.