Oscar-winning Canadian screenwriter and director Paul Haggis was ordered to pay an additional $2.5 million in civil exemplary damages for raping a PR professional in his apartment in 2013 by a New York jury on Monday which penalized him for a combined $10 million in the case.
Last Thursday, in an initial verdict the jury found Haggis liable for sexual assault in the case and ordered him to compensate the complainant Haleigh Breest with $7.5 million.
Breest accused in her 2017 lawsuit that Haggis tempted her to his SoHo (South of Houston Street) apartment after a film premiere and raped her. However, Haggis said that they were consensually together. The complainant is one among the four women who publicly alleged Haggis of sexual misconduct in 2017 and 2018.
Haggis denied the accusations and was never charged with the crime in the United States.
Breest’s lawyer, Ilann Maazel, told reporters on Monday that justice had been done. In her last arguments, Maazel said that Haggis should pay huge exemplary damages for his “cold, calculated and premeditated” behavior. She said, “The only person he feels sorry for is himself.”
Haggis vows to clear his name in the case
Whereas, Haggis interpreted the verdict as “financially ruining” but was determined to appeal. He said, “I can’t live with lies like this. I will die clearing my name.”
Haggis was questioned about his earnings from movies like the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and his Oscar-winning films Crash and Million Dollar Baby.
He even testified about making a $25 million fortune in his more than 40 years-long film career and also said that he cannot manage to pay the verdict’s cost. 69-year-old Haggis said in Monday’s hearing that he had incurred various financial losses over the years, this includes ruining of a poorly insured home in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but Breest’s lawsuit destroyed him completely. He claimed that his expenditure on the court case topped $2.6 million, and his career abruptly finished.
Outside the court he said, “I’ve spent all the money I have at my disposal. I’ve gutted my pension plan, I’ve lived on loans, in order to pay for this case in a very naive belief in justice.
Haggis was detained by Italian officials for more than two weeks in June after being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and severe physical injury. Following Haggis’ denial of the accusations, the charges were later dismissed, according to his attorney Michele Laforgia, who later told the Italian news agency Ansa.