Los Angeles, Oct 28 (UiTV/IANS) – A former freelance TV producer testified on Thursday that Paul Haggis allegedly assaulted and attempted to rape her at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015, reports ‘Variety’.
Jurors in a lower Manhattan courtroom watched a 2019 video deposition of the woman, who recalled feeling physically and emotionally in fear at the time of their encounter. She alleges that Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer and director of ‘Crash’, had “relentlessly” pursued her sexually before she managed to escape into her apartment building after an event at TIFF.
“It made me feel like he was somebody not only to be emotionally feared, he was somebody to be physically feared,” she said in her testimony. “My personal well-being was in jeopardy. It was a terrifying feeling.”
Haggis is fighting a civil rape lawsuit from former film publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges the filmmaker forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her in his Soho apartment in 2013 after a movie premiere.
Four additional women, all of whom prefer to remain anonymous, have accused Haggis of assault. Attorneys for Breest are using their testimonies to attempt to prove that Haggis’s alleged rape of Breest is part of a behaviour pattern. They also hope to illustrate a portrait of a man who used his “storytelling skills and fame to prey on, manipulate and attack vulnerable young women in the film industry”.
In the case of Jane Doe No. 4, she was introduced to Haggis by her boss at a gathering for the non-profit Artists for Peace and Justice during TIFF.
The accuser, who was 26 at the time, described her initial encounters with the filmmaker as professional. But as the night went on, she felt the dynamic shift, becoming convinced he was deliberately following her in a manner that seemed “odd”.