Paul Haggis took the stand for a second day Thursday, telling the New York jury that Haleigh Breest, the former events publicist who is suing him for sexual assault, seemed to be “having a really good time” and initiated kissing during the 2013 encounter at his Manhattan apartment.
The “Crash” and “Million Dollar Baby” filmmaker has maintained since the allegations first surfaced that he and Breest had consensual sex that night, and that Scientology is somehow behind the civil case. Breest “never gave me any indication it was anything other than consensual” until the 2017 lawsuit, Haggis said Thursday.
Haggis acknowledged that a few times, Breest pulled away from the kissing that started in his kitchen, saying “No, I shouldn’t.” Later, as he was removing her tights on a bed in the guest bedroom, Haggis testified that she told him “No, no no, I don’t want you to see me. I’m fat.”
He said her protests in the kitchen were of the “cartoony, Betty Boop-y, playful, smiling” variety, and that she, too, initiated more kissing at that point.
Haggis also offered a different version of the menacing things Breest said he told her that night. The publicist has said Haggis told her “Don’t act like a fucking 18-year-old” and “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”
Haggis said when she started her “playful” protests, he stepped back and said: “How old are you? Are you a teenager? If you want to do something, do it. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it.”
Then she broke off another kiss, he said, and this time she stepped back. That’s when he says he asked her: “You’re not scared of me, are you?”
He said he offered to send her home in a cab, and though she seemed conflicted, she stayed. He says she continued to smile and engage with him as he gave her a tour of his Soho apartment.
Once they were in the guest room, Haggis said, they both went to the bed and started removing clothes. Haggis said he turned down the lights after she objected to his removing her tights, then laughed as she helped him remove the tights and performed oral sex on him.
Haggis said she was gone when he woke up in the morning.
Breest testified last month that Haggis pressured her to come to his apartment, where things spiraled quickly out of her control until she was ultimately raped – and that she has no connection to Scientology.
Haggis first took the stand Wednesday and, for the first time since the accusations began to fly, spoke publicly about them, saying he was “happy” to do so: “For five years, I’ve been unable to clear my name, and now I will.”
On Thursday, still under the friendly questioning of his own lawyers, Haggis described the beginning of the night in February 2013 much the same as Breest did last month. He said she accepted his offer of a ride home from the film premiere before the two went up to his Soho apartment for a nightcap.
But whereas Breest testified that she told him she did not plan to spend the night and that his advances came early and at some shock, Haggis said Thursday that she was “flirtatious” and “having a really good time, it seemed to me,” according to The Daily News.
Haggis was expected to continue his testimony later Thursday, and still has not faced cross-examination.
More to come …