Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis is demanding private messages between his rape accuser and her friends be made public.
Publicist Haleigh Breest filed a civil suit against the 66-year-old in 2017, claiming she had been forced to pleasure him orally, before engaging in intercourse during an encounter at her New York City apartment in 2013. Haggis denied sexually assaulting Breest, but did admit to receiving oral sex from her, which he insisted was fully consensual.
The Crash director claims he has been left unable to work due to the rape claim and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, filed court documents last week requesting a judge make the confidential text message evidence public.
The texts between Breest and her close friends date from the morning after the alleged incident back in 2013, which he believes provide evidence of a consensual encounter.
Her lawyers disagree, saying that the text messages are consistent with someone who has been the victim of a violent sexual assault.
In the texts, which are described in court papers, Breest writes about getting a ride home from Haggis after the 2013 premiere of the Steven Soderbergh movie Side Effects and discusses the encounter in graphic terms. She and her friend also discuss allegations against other prominent Hollywood figures, including Harvey Weinstein – before any sexual assault accusations against the movie mogul were made public.
Haggis’ lawyers claim the texts show the publicist wanted to continue a relationship, while her lawyers allege they show an attempt to minimise what happened as a coping mechanism.
In a statement, the filmmaker’s attorney Priya Chaudhry says: “Breest’s attorneys have tried to hide these texts from public view… We will continue to fight to have the complete exchange of text messages between Breest and her friends be made public.”
Both sides are also at odds over the alleged involvement of the Church of Scientology, of which Haggis is a former member and prominent critic, with Breest denying his team’s insinuations she has been funded by Scientology members under oath.
Haggis previously countersued Breest, accusing her of attempting to extort him over the false rape claims, but the case was dismissed last year and he dropped an appeal.