NEW YORK (AP) — Members of the jury got their most memorable look Wednesday at a claim that pits Oscar-winning moviemaker Paul Haggis against a marketing expert who charges that he assaulted her, the most recent in a setup of #MeToo-period preliminaries including Hollywood figures this fall.
Opening proclamations in the common body of evidence against Haggis started Wednesday in a New York state court. The government court nearby is lodging a preliminary in a claim blaming Oscar-winning entertainer Kevin Spacey for rape. In Los Angeles, previous film magnate Harvey Weinstein and “That ’70s Show” entertainer Danny Masterson are battling criminal assault pursues at discrete preliminaries the corridor from one another (Weinstein is now carrying out a 23-year punishment on a New York conviction). Each of the men Paul Haggis deny the claims.
The Paul Haggis conjunction of preliminaries is an occurrence, yet it makes for something of a #MeToo second five years after charges against Weinstein set off a dam break of sexual unfortunate behavior allegations in Hollywood and then some and catalyzed a continuous development to request responsibility.
“We’re still from the beginning in this season of retribution,” said Debra Katz, a Washington-based legal counselor who has addressed numerous rape informers. She isn’t associated with any of the four preliminaries.
In an uncommon turn, both Haggis’ case and Masterson’s additionally have become gatherings for examining the Paul Haggis Congregation of Scientology, however according to alternate points of view.
For the situation against Haggis, marketing specialist Haleigh Breest claims that the “Crash” and “Million Dollar Child” screenwriter constrained her to perform oral sex and assaulted her after she hesitantly consented to a beverage in his loft after a 2013 film debut. Haggis keeps up with that the experience was consensual.
Breest never went to police, yet not long after the experience, she provided companions with a record of what occurred, sending instant messages that both her legal counselors and Haggis’ lawyers say reinforce their case.
“He was so harsh and forceful. Never at any point again … What’s more, I continued to say no,” read one text that her legal counselor Zoe Salzman featured in her initial articulation. She said the experience broke Breest inwardly, however that she didn’t open up to the world until after the Paul Haggis claims against Weinstein burst into view in 2017 and Haggis denounced him.
“The Paul haggis of it made her blood boil,” Salzman said.
Haggis lawyer Priya Chaudhry directed legal hearers toward different pieces of a similar text trade, saying that Breest added “haha” — for “laughing uncontrollably” — when she referenced performing oral sex, and that she said she needed to be separated from everyone else with Haggis again to “see what occurs.”
“I don’t mind excessively. I simply trust I don’t currently have adversaries” expertly, she composed, as per Chaudhry. She contended that Breest erroneously blamed the movie producer for assault to get a payout.
“Paul Haggis is feeling better that he at last gets his day in court,” Chaudhry said.
Just Breest is suing Haggis, however members of the jury will likewise hear from four different ladies who let her legal counselors know that Haggis physically attacked them, or endeavored to do as such, in discrete experiences somewhere in the range of 1996 and 2015. The jury will not hear, nonetheless, that Italian specialists this mid year researched a rape charge against him, which he denied.
“Mr. Haggis utilized his narrating abilities and his notoriety to go after, to control and to go after weak young ladies in the entertainment world,” Salzman told members of the jury. “He doesn’t stop when ladies say no.”
Haggis’ lawyer contended there’s one more clarification for the charges.
Promising “conditional proof,” she recommended that Scientologists ginned up Breest’s claim to ruin him after he split with the congregation and turned into a conspicuous naysayer.
The congregation denies any contribution, and Breest’s legal counselors have called the idea a ridiculous fear inspired notion that needs evidence of any association between the religion and Haggis’ informers.
“Scientology doesn’t have anything to do with this case,” Salzman told legal hearers. The congregation has said something very similar.
Scientology is an arrangement of convictions, lessons and ceremonies zeroed in on profound improvement. Sci-fi and dream creator L. Ron Hubbard’s 1950 book “Dianetics: The Cutting edge Study of Emotional wellness” is a primary text.
The religion has gained a following among such celebrities as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. But some high-profile members have broken with it, including Haggis, singer Lisa Marie Presley and actor Leah Remini. In a memoir and documentary series, Remini said the church uses manipulative and abusive tactics to indoctrinate followers into putting its goals above all else, and she maintained that it worked to discredit critics who spoke out.
The church has vociferously disputed the claims.
Haggis says he was Scientologist for three decades before leaving the church in 2009. He slammed it as “a cult” in a 2011 New Yorker article that later informed a book and an HBO documentary, and he foreshadowed that retribution would come in the form of “a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church.”
The church has repeatedly said that Haggis lied about its practices to grab the spotlight for himself and his career. The church didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Masterson’s lawyer, meanwhile, is asking jurors to disregard the actor’s affiliation with Scientology, though prosecutors say the church discouraged two of his three accusers from going to authorities. All three are former members.
Haggis got his Hollywood start as as TV writer and moved on to movies including “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” which won back-to-back Academy Awards for best picture in the mid-2000s. The Canada-born filmmaker also directed and was a producer of “Crash,” which garnered him and Bobby Moresco the best original screenplay Oscar in 2006.
In a sworn statement last year, Haggis said his career nosedived and his finances cratered after Breest sued him in 2017.
The Associated Press does not usually name people alleging sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Breest has done. She is seeking unspecified damages.
Associated Press writer Deepa Bharath contributed from Los Angeles. Read more