Trial for Oscar winner Paul Haggis begins

Haggis is now facing several charges in court. Press agent Haleigh Breest accuses him of abusing her.

Director Paul Haggis leaves the court for a lunch break. 

Director Paul Haggis leaves the court for a lunch break. AP/Julia Nikhinson

The civil trial against Canadian director and Oscar winner Paul Haggis over rape allegations has begun in New York. The 69-year-old, best known for directing and writing the film Crash, as well as the scripts for Million Dollar Baby and Casino Royale, arrived at court on Wednesday morning, according to an AFP photographer.

Film press agent Haleigh Breest accused Haggis in December 2017 of abusing and raping her in January 2013. At that time she was 26 years old. Three other women then accused Haggis of sexual assault. Haggis states that the encounter was consensual. In June of this year, the director was also arrested on suspicion in another case in southern Italy. Haggis denied the allegations and was soon free.

Haggis’ lawyers suggested Wednesday that Breest’s lawsuit was influenced by Scientology, which criticized Haggis after he left the organization, according to US media. Breest’s lawyers rejected this.

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