Jury selection begins for Paul Haggis rape case in New York City

Crash producer Paul Haggis has to go to court in New York City to challenge charges that he raped a publicist in 2013.

The Oscar winner has not been charged but is being sued by Haleigh Breest, 36, a Manhattan publicist who says he attacked her in his apartment after a premiere for the film Side Effects.

Breest was then 26 and Haggis, now 69, almost 60.

She claims he took her to his apartment for a “drink” and then forced her into oral sex with him and raped her.

Oscar-winning producer Paul Haggis (pictured left earlier this month) is expected to appear in court this week in New York City. He is being sued by Haleigh Breest, who claims to have raped her in 2013.

In her lawsuit, she claims he told her not to worry because he had a vasectomy and was therefore unable to impregnate her. Haggis – who was previously arrested in Italy on separate rape claims – denies Breest’s allegations.

He says the whole thing is being directed by the Church of Scientology as punishment for speaking out against it — Haggis was a member of the church, but left in 2009.

Jury selection for the civil trial begins today in Manhattan. Breest is expected to testify, as are three other women who have accused Haggis of rape.

Those women have not been named.

It remains unclear whether any of the women reported their allegations to police, or why Haggis was never arrested for their allegations.

The Italian case was dropped six weeks after the woman, who is British, first reported her allegations to police in the city of Lecce.

Breest emerged in 2017, galvanized by the #MeToo movement and accusations against Harvey Weinstein.

Haggis states that the encounter she describes in her lawsuit was by mutual consent.

His lawyers say Breest demanded $9 million from him before filing her lawsuit, and the case is one of “simple racketeering.”

The lawsuit details how Breest, then 26, worked as a publicist at the Upper West Side event.

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Haggis was a celebrity guest. When the party was over, she said he insisted on giving her a lift downtown, and asked her to join him for drinks at his apartment.

Haggis, shown with Jack Nicholson and co-producer Cathy Schulman, won an Oscar for Crash. He also wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby

Breest in 2009 with Madonna and Andy Cohen at another event in New York City. Haggis said they often ran into each other at industry events and that the 2013 incident was consensual.

She claims that she asked to go to a public bar instead, but that he “insisted” on the privacy of his own home.

Once inside, she claims he led her into a bedroom where he took off her pantyhose, took off his own Banana Republican boxer, and forced her into oral sex with the instruction, “Put my dick in your mouth.”

Haggis then digitally invaded Breest, telling her “you’re nice and tight” and telling her he liked “anal sex,” according to the 12-page complaint filed in 2017.

She says he then raped her without using a condom and told her, “I had a vasectomy, so you’re fine. You can’t get pregnant.’

After the alleged attack, she says she “lost consciousness” in the bedroom and later woke up to find him in another part of the apartment.

She says she felt “locked in” and that the only way out of the apartment was a personal elevator that led to the house.

Records show that Haggis paid $1.2 million for the Mercer Street apartment in 2012.

He was seen earlier this month returning to New York City ahead of the trial.

Haggis, like many other celebrities, defected from the Church of Scientology in 2009.

He has since spoken out against the church and its support for a 2008 California law that stripped gay couples of their marriage rights.

He also mentioned concerns about widespread allegations of physical violence within the church.

He was married to actress Deborah Rennard at the time of the alleged attack. She has spoken in his defense since the allegations were made.


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