Jury orders Canadian filmmaker Paul Haggis to pay $10M total in rape lawsuit | CBC News

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Academy Award-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis was ordered on Monday to pay an additional $2.5 million US in damages in a rape lawsuit, bringing the total to $10 million for a woman who said he sexually assaulted her nearly a decade ago.

Jurors decided on the additional, punitive damages after hearing testimony about Haggis’s finances.

The same jury had already found that Haggis raped publicist Haleigh Breest and forced her to perform oral sex in his New York apartment on Jan. 31, 2013. The Canadian filmmaker said they had a consensual encounter.

Breest brought a civil lawsuit. Haggis wasn’t criminally charged in the matter.

The jury sided with Breest last week, awarded her $7.5 million in compensatory damages for suffering and decided that she was also due punitive damages. Jurors returned to court on Monday to work out the amount.

They got a quick course in movie financing as Haggis was questioned about his earnings on such films as Oscar best-picture winners Crash and Million Dollar Baby, and the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

While explaining the complexities of screenwriting compensation, he estimated that throughout his four decades in TV and movies, he’s made as much as $25 million US — before taxes, agents’ and other representatives’ fees and asset splits with his two ex-wives.

The 69-year-old filmmaker said during the trial that he’d suffered various financial losses over the years — including the destruction of a poorly insured home in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles — but that Breest’s lawsuit wiped him out. He said his legal bills topped $2.6 million, while his career abruptly dried up.

Except for some relatively small gigs rewriting scripts, Haggis said, “I will never work as a writer until I clear my name.”

Publicist Haleigh Breest leaves court after Haggis was found guilty in her sexual assault civil lawsuit, in New York on Thursday. (John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

Breest’s lawyers questioned Haggis’s claims of being broke.

“Nothing Paul Haggis says can be trusted,” lawyer Ilann Maazel said.

After the verdict, he said the jury “did the right thing.” Jurors left court without commenting.

Breest, 36, said she suffered both professional and psychological harm from what happened after she accepted an invitation for a drink at his apartment following a movie premiere.

She declined to comment on Monday. In a statement after the initial verdict on Thursday, she said she appreciated “the opportunity to seek justice and accountability in court — and that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me.”

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