HOLLYWOOD – Four women accused Canadian screenwriter and filmmaker Paul Haggis, who left his mark on films such as “Crash” and “Million Dollar Baby”, of sexual assaults ranging from harassment to rapes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, three women, who kept their name under anonymity, added their allegations to a lawsuit filed in New York by Haleigh Breest, who said Haggis raped her in 2013.
In that first accusation, the scriptwriter denied the facts and filed a lawsuit against Breest, arguing that the alleged victim had allegedly demanded 9 million dollars to settle the case, a circumstance that he interpreted as an extortion attempt.
Attorney Christine Lepera, who represents Haggis, denied “in its entirety” the three new allegations and suggested that “they appear to be directed” by Breest’s lawyers as a tactic to reach a judicial settlement.
Haggis directed and wrote the film “Crash” (2004), for which he won two Oscars for the best film and the best original script. His credits as a screenwriter include the films “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), “Letters from Iwo Jima” (2006), “Casino Royale” (2006) and “Quantum of Solace” (2008), while as a director he left his signature in the feature film “In the Valley of Elah” (2007) and in the miniseries “Show Me a Hero” (2015).
The first woman to point out Haggis was Haleigh Breest, who said that, after the premiere of a movie, the scriptwriter invited her to have a drink in his house. Once there, the alleged victim, who at that time was 26 years old, maintains that Haggis behaved violently, ripped off her stockings and raped her.
One of the three women who joined the indictment said she met Haggis in 1996 when they worked on a television show. According to her story, the scriptwriter kissed her against her will in an office and, when she told him to stop, he became “threatening” and asked if he wanted to continue working in the audiovisual industry. Next, Haggis forced her to perform oral sex and then penetrated her.
The other two women also claimed that the writer harassed them and tried to rape them in two different episodes in 2008 and 2005
The accusations against Haggis add to the enormous controversy that Hollywood is living due to the numerous cases of sexual abuse that, after revealing the scandal surrounding the producer Harvey Weinstein, have splashed artists like Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner, John Lasseter, Louis CK or Bryan Singer.
The “Me Too” campaign (me too), which encouraged victims to harass their own cases, inspired more than 300 Hollywood stars to launch a legal defence fund aimed at helping women less privileged than themselves to protect themselves from possible sexual abuse in the workplace.
Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman and Emma Stone are some of the actresses who lead this initiative.