June 24, 2018 / 6:42 AM

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Paul Haggis Accused Of Sexual Misconduct, Rape But He Denies Such Claims

 

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Several women have come forward to accuse director Paul Haggis of sexual assault and rape.

The accusations were prompted by a civil lawsuit alleging Haggis of raping a publicist years ago. One of the other accusers told Associated Press that Haggis attempted to sexually assault her but she luckily managed to flee.

Others weren't as lucky. One of the women recounted how Haggis held down her arms, kissed her forcefully, then followed her into a taxi. She was able to get away from him eventually.

Christine Lepera, the Oscar-winning director's lawyer, said Haggis "didn't rape anybody."

Haggis has denied the original above-mentioned rape allegation filed by Haleigh Breest in Dec. 15, 2017, with Haggis adding that Breest and her lawyer had first demanded $9 million in payment to avoid litigation. In the lawsuit, Breest alleges Haggis of raping her in his Manhattan apartment.

On Friday, Jan. 5, Breest amended her lawsuit to acknowledge the allegations of three other women.

In an interview with Associated Press, they said their sexual misconduct encounters occurred between 1996 and 2015. Early on when the women were at the nascent stage of their careers, Haggis apparently coaxed them into private or semi-private venues under the pretense of discussing matters related to film production.

This particular type of ruse mirrors the reported behavior of another accused Hollywood bigwig, Harvey Weinstein, who has been reported to lure women pretending they were going to talk professionally, until Weinstein does something sexually egregious.

All the accusers said that Haggis attempted to kiss them first. In two of the cases, he became more aggressive when his initial advances were rebuffed.

One of the new accusers said she was a 28-year-old publicist working in Haggis-produced show on TV. One night, he called her in to review some photos from the show. According to her, Haggis was the "ultimate boss," so she felt declining wasn't a good idea.

When he arrived, Haggis invited her to move the discussion in a more isolated office. Upon getting there, he immediately began kissing her. She resisted his assault, but upon doing so, Haggis threatened that she would lose her job if she didn't comply.

Then he forced her oral sex and raped her on the floor.

She said she felt compelled to tell her story after reading stories about Breest's lawsuit, in addition to the blaring #MeToo movement in various industries as women increasingly speak out about their run-ins with sexual misconduct, assault, and even rape. Many Hollywood figures have been accused as a result, from Kevin Spacey to Louis C.K. to Danny Masterson.

"Mr. Haggis denies these anonymous claims in whole," according to the statement from Haggis's lawyer.

"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."

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