Oscar-winning filmmaker Haggis accused of abusing four women
NEW YORK: Oscar-winning Canadian filmmaker Paul Haggis is now accused of sexual abuse by four women, according to an amended civil suit filed on Friday in New York.
Haggis, who wrote and produced “Crash,” and penned the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,” is also known for his high-profile split almost a decade ago from the Church of Scientology.
The allegations against him are the latest in a torrent of accusations made against powerful men that began with the fall of film mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, over numerous accusations including rape.
Three women alleging to be victims of Haggis’s abuse are referred to in the lawsuit amended Friday and initially filed on December 15 at a New York court by a film publicist, Haleigh Breest.
She accused Haggis of abusing and raping her in January 2013 when she was 26.
On the same day Haggis, 64, filed his own action against Breest, denying the accusation and accusing her of seeking “to extract many millions of dollars” from him.
Breest’s lawsuit says that since she filed her claim “three other women have accused Paul Haggis of rape and sexual abuse.”
Those three are identified only as Jane Doe one, two and three.
The first woman, a publicist who worked with Haggis on a television program, alleged that in 1996 he forcefully kissed her before making her perform oral sex and then raping her.
Another woman, who wanted to propose an idea for a show, alleged that she had to flee from his office in 2008 when he kissed her by force.
The third woman, whom Haggis met at a film festival, said she was abused in 2015 when he tried to forcefully kiss her.
According to the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, who are acting for the plaintiff and passed the allegations to AFP, the claims show that Haggis “is a serial predator who has preyed upon women for many years.”
A lawyer for the film-maker, Christine Lepera, did not immediately comment when reached by AFP but in a statement to the Deadline.com website said he “denies these anonymous claims in whole.”
She said that Haggis “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.”