Paul Haggis Rape Accuser Wants to Raise Italy Case at New York Trial

·2-min read

Director Paul Haggis is scheduled to face a civil trial in New York next month on an accusation that he raped publicist Haleigh Breest after a film premiere in 2013.

The trial will come nearly five years after the suit was filed, and just a couple of months after an Italian court dismissed a similar accusation against the director.

More from Variety

Breest’s lawyers are now seeking information about the Italian case, which they may seek to introduce at the New York trial. In a motion filed on Tuesday, they asked Judge Sabrina Kraus to order Haggis’ lawyers to turn over records related to the case.

Haggis’ lawyers are expected to argue that such evidence would not be admissible, and is not subject to discovery, according to an email that was attached to the motion.

Haggis won two Oscars for writing and directing “Crash,” and also wrote the Oscar-winning film “Million Dollar Baby.” He is also a high-profile apostate of the Church of Scientology.

He has denied the allegations against him. Last year, he said in a court filing that Breest’s rape allegation had made it impossible for him to work, and pushed him to the verge of bankruptcy.

Haggis was arrested on June 16 in Ostuni, Italy, on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 28-year-old British woman twice over the course of two days. He remained under house arrest at a hotel in Italy for 16 days, until a judge ordered that he be released.

Local prosecutors appealed to a higher court, which also found no grounds to pursue the case further.

After learning about the Italian case through the media, Breest’s attorneys asked for information about that case, citing a 2019 discovery ruling that required Haggis’ attorneys to turn over records related to other sexual assault allegations. Haggis’ attorneys responded that they planned to file a motion to exclude the Italian case from the upcoming trial.

Update, Sept. 7: Both sides have filed motions to exclude evidence from the trial. Breest’s attorneys want the judge to bar any mention of Scientology, and in particular the “conspiracy theory” that Breest’s allegations were brought in retaliation for Haggis’ decision to speak out against the church. They also want to prevent Haggis’ side from introducing evidence about his deteriorating finances.

Haggis’ lawyers, meanwhile, want the judge to forbid any mention of any other alleged sexual assault, including the Italian case. According to the defense motion, the plaintiffs’ witness list includes six Jane Does who allege some sort of sexual misconduct. The defense calls that “inadmissible” and “highly prejudicial.”

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.