An Oscar-winning filmmaker is facing a civil lawsuit as allegations of rape and sexual misconduct are leveled against him.
Paul Haggis, who won back-to-back best picture Oscar’s for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” has been accused of raping a publicist identified in court papers as Haleigh Breest, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reports that aside from Breest, three additional women have come forward “with their own sexual misconduct accusations, including another publicist who says he forced her to perform oral sex, then raped her.”
Breest filed her lawsuit on Dec. 15, in Manhattan. The three other women subsequently came forward, making contact with Breest’s New York attorneys after news of the lawsuit went public.
From the AP (Warning: the following report includes descriptions of sexual assault):
“Breest accuses Haggis of raping her after he lured her back to his apartment in Manhattan following a film premiere in 2013.
“Quickly, Haggis became ‘sexually aggressive,’ she said in her lawsuit, and began kissing her.
“Haggis then forced her into a bedroom and onto a bed and tried to tear off her tights, she said. She called out ‘no,’ but he wouldn’t stop, she said.
“He forced her to perform oral sex on him, he fondled her, asked if she liked anal sex, then raped her, according to the lawsuit.
“Breest said she went to a clinic to be checked for sexually transmitted diseases, then told several friends and a psychologist.”
The AP reports on the other accounts as well:
“In separate interviews with the AP, the three new accusers provided detailed accounts of encounters they say occurred between 1996 and 2015. The women were early in their careers in the entertainment business when, they say, the Hollywood heavyweight lured them to private or semi-private places under the guise of discussing productions or a subject of a professional nature.
“They all said Haggis first tried to kiss them. In two of the cases, they said, when they fought back, Haggis escalated his aggression.
“One of the other women speaking out told The Associated Press that Haggis tried to sexually assault her. ‘I need to be inside you,’ she recalled him saying, before she managed to run away.
“Another of the new accusers said Haggis held down her arms, forcibly kissed her on a street corner, then followed her into a taxi. She said she later escaped his clutches.
“The new rape accuser said she was a 28-year-old publicist working on a television show being produced by Haggis in 1996 when he called to ask to review photos from the show that night in her office.
When Haggis arrived, she said, everyone else had left the office for the night and he insisted they speak in a back office. She said Haggis began kissing her as soon as they walked into the room.
“’I just pulled away. He was just glaring at me and came at me again. I was really resisting. He said to me, “Do you really want to continue working?”’ the woman said. ‘And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb. I didn’t know what to do.’
“She said he made her perform oral sex, then pushed her to the floor and raped her.
“When she returned to work the next day, she was so scared of Haggis that she asked a friend to come to work with her, she said.”
The publicist’s rape account was corroborated by another friend, according to the AP. The alleged victim she didn’t come forward before because, “The power, the anger, the financial resources, you feel like you are not really a match for that.”
Haggis has denied all of the allegations.
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