Paul Haggis denies claim he forced oral sex on accuser, says it was consensual
Paul Haggis is firing back at one of the women accusing him of sexual assault.
The Oscar-winning director, 65, filed his response to a lawsuit against him by publicist Haleigh Breest on Monday in which he admitted he received oral sex from her but claimed it was consensual, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Breest sued him in December claiming Haggis had raped her after she accepted his offer to drive her home following a film premiere in 2013. She also claimed the Crash director became “sexually aggressive” and forced her to perform oral sex on him before allegedly raping her.
In the documents, Haggis said her claims were “shocking and scandalous claims of fiction” which he “vehemently denies.” The director also denied Breest “gave [him] oral sex” forcibly or without her consent, calling the moment consensual.
Further, Haggis claims they “mutually and voluntarily removed certain items of each other’s clothing.”
In her lawsuit, Breest alleged Haggis forced her to drink alcohol and that they had vaginal sex, although he denied these claims and her allegation that she “lost consciousness as a result of any act.”
In January, three other woman came forward to Breest’s attorneys. In a series of interviews with the Associated Press that month, they provided details claims of their sexual misconduct allegations, which allegedly stemmed from interactions they had with Haggis from 1996 through 2015, when they were still beginning their careers. All of the women chose to remain anonymous.
One of Haggis’ accusers claimed that the director and screenwriter raped her in 1996 when she was 28 years old and working as a publicist.
At the time, she claimed she was working on a television series Haggis was producing and one day he had asked her to review photos from the show at night. The woman claimed that Haggis then insisted they go to a back office, where he quickly began kissing her.
“I just pulled away. He was just glaring at me and came at me again. I was really resisting. He said to me, ‘Do you really want to continue working?’” the woman told the AP. “And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb. I didn’t know what to do.”
She then claimed Haggis made her perform oral sex before allegedly raping her. The accuser added that she did not tell the police at the time because she was worried Haggis would end her career.
Another woman claimed when she was in her 30s, Haggis tried to kiss her during a nighttime meeting. A fourth woman claimed that after Haggis forcibly kissed her, he followed her into a taxi and then attempted to force his way into her residence.
In January, Haggis denied these claims in a statement provided to PEOPLE through his attorney, Christine Lepoera.
“Mr. Haggis denies these anonymous claims in whole. In a society where one of a person’s fundamental rights is the ability to confront an accuser, that right has now been eviscerated when it comes to anyone being charged in the press with any sort of sexual misconduct,” Lepoera said. “Notably, no one has reached out to anyone on Mr. Haggis’ team other than the press to report this.
“He views the fact that these reports appear to be spearheaded from the law-firm representing Ms. Breest, as a further tactic to try to harm him and continue their effort to obtain money,” she continued. “Mr. Haggis also questions whether Scientology has any role here, which he notes has been attacking him for years with false accusations.”
Haggis is one of the most high-profile Scientology defectors.
The Blast first reported the news.