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Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis found liable for raping woman in 2013, ordered to pay $7.5 million

Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning director and writer behind films like Crash and Million Dollar Baby, has been found liable for raping a woman in 2013. 

A jury in a civil trial found that the director and screenwriter raped Haleigh Breest, a former publicist, at his Manhattan apartment in 2013, and he was ordered to pay her at least $7.5 million, according to The New York Times

Haggis was not criminally charged in connection with Breest's allegations, but she brought a civil lawsuit against him in 2017. She testified that the filmmaker invited her to come back to his apartment after a film premiere, and she "felt pressured to say yes." Once there, she alleged he raped her and forced her to perform oral sex. 

In addition to directing the Best Picture-winning film Crash, Haggis also wrote 2004's Million Dollar Baby, which also won the Oscar for Best Picture. He denied Breest's allegations, maintaining their encounter was consensual. In June, he was arrested in Italy on sexual assault charges in a separate case. 

According to the Times, the jury will return on Monday to determine punitive damages after awarding Breest $7.5 million in compensatory damages.

"I am grateful that I had the opportunity to seek justice and accountability in court — and that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me," Breest said.

Haggis' attorney said his legal team was "disappointed and shocked" by the jury's decision, adding, "No one could have had a fair trial in that courtroom under those circumstances. This is a shameful exploitation of the #MeToo movement where political sentiment trumps facts."