Filmmaker Paul Haggis took the witness stand Wednesday within the trial of a rape lawsuit in opposition to him, however he didn’t instantly talk about the sexual assault claims of 5 ladies who’ve testified.
As an alternative, the Oscar-winning screenwriter and director started what could possibly be days of testimony by specializing in his years-long conflict with the Church of Scientology.
Haggis’ legal professionals have been attempting to recommend that the swimsuit could be the product of a Scientology plot in opposition to him, although they haven’t offered direct proof of a connection between the star-studded church and his accusers, solely one among whom is suing. Her legal professionals, and the church, name the argument a bogus conspiracy idea.
Haggis stated he was nervous however “very comfortable” to testify.
“For 5 years, I’ve been unable to clear my identify, and now I’ll,” he advised jurors.
The plaintiff, publicist Haleigh Breest, earlier gave the jury an in depth account of the alleged 2013 rape. Breest, 36, sued in 2017 for unspecified damages; there aren’t any legal expenses within the case.
Haggis, 69, contends that the encounter was consensual.
A typically tearful Haggis acknowledged having “numerous affairs” whereas married to his second spouse, actor Deborah Rennard, from 1997 till a 2010 separation and a divorce six years later.
Haggis, identified for writing the early-2000s finest image Oscar winners “Million Greenback Child” and “Crash,” hasn’t but given the jury his account of what occurred after he and Breest went to his Manhattan house following a film premiere. He additionally hasn’t detailed his interactions with the 4 different ladies who testified that he sexually assaulted them on separate events between 1996 and 2015.
His testimony to this point has largely centered on his decades-long membership and extremely publicized cut up in roughly 2009 with Scientology, a system of beliefs, teachings and rituals centered on religious development. It was based by science fiction and fantasy writer L. Ron Hubbard within the Nineteen Fifties.
Haggis’ legal professionals have floated the notion that the church one way or the other generated the lawsuit to take down a well-known dissenter, although they’ve agreed there’s no proof that Breest has any ties to the faith. Nor have any witnesses testified that they know of a hyperlink between Scientology and Breest’s legal professionals or between the religion and Haggis’ different accusers.
However one among Haggis’ legal professionals, Priya Chaudhry, has stated the “circumstantial proof of Scientology’s involvement right here can be highly effective.”
The defence has had ex-Scientologists, together with one among his daughters, relate what they portrayed as church efforts to scrounge up damaging details about him or his household after he left the group and referred to as it “a cult” in a 2011 New Yorker article.
“I used to be a part of what finally was a really corrupt group,” he advised jurors Wednesday.
The church has stated Haggis is attempting to disgrace his accusers with an “absurd and patently false” idea.
“The church has nothing to do with the claims in opposition to Haggis, nor does it have any relation to the attorneys behind the case,” the group stated in a press release because the trial opened.
The Related Press typically doesn’t determine individuals who allege they’ve been sexually assaulted except they arrive ahead publicly, as Breest has finished.