Trigger warning: rape
A New York jury on Monday, November 14, ordered Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis to pay $2.5 million in civil punitive damages for raping a publicist in his apartment in 2013, for a combined verdict of $10 million in the case.
The verdict came after the same jury on Thursday found Haggis liable for sexual assault in the civil case and ordered him to pay plaintiff Haleigh Breest $7.5 million in compensatory damages.
Breest alleged in her 2017 lawsuit that Haggis lured her to his SoHo apartment after a film premiere and raped her. Breest was one of four women who publicly accused Haggis of sexual misconduct in 2017 and 2018.
Haggis denied the allegations and was never criminally charged in the United States.
Breest’s lawyer, Ilann Maazel, told reporters outside the New York City courtroom on Monday that justice had been done.
Haggis said the case has ruined him financially but vowed to appeal.
“I will die clearing my name,” he said.
Haggis, known for films including “Crash” and “Million Dollar Baby,” testified on Monday that he made as much as $25 million throughout his film career but cannot afford the judgment against him after racking up millions of dollars in legal costs.
Maazel said during his closing arguments on Monday that Haggis should pay hefty punitive damages for his “cold, calculated, and premeditated” conduct.
“The only person he feels sorry for is himself,” Maazel said.
In June, Haggis was arrested by Italian authorities and held in custody for more than two weeks on charges of sexual assault and aggravated personal injury. Haggis denied the allegations, and his lawyer Michele Laforgia later told the Italian news agency Ansa that the charges were dropped. – Rappler.com