Paul Haggis Can Argue Church of Scientology Behind Rape Allegation, Judge Rules | American News

Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis will be allowed to argue that the Church of Scientology was behind a rape allegation against him, a New York judge has ruled.

Haggis, who was charged separately over the summer with sexually assaulting a woman at an Italian film festival, will be allowed to argue that church members were involved in a previous rape allegation made by publicist Haleigh Breest from 2013. The case, which arose out of a civil lawsuit brought by Breest, is expected to go to trial next month.

Haggis claimed the meeting with Breest was consensual and that the allegation against him came in retaliation for his decision to leave Scientology and become an outspoken critic.

“Haggis is no ordinary defendant in a civil case,” his lawyers wrote in court documents seen by Variety. “He is the most public enemy of a notorious, nefarious, powerful and well-funded institution that is notorious for destroying its critics.”

In court papers, Breest’s attorneys sought to block that defense at trial, calling it a “speculative fantasist” and claiming that neither Breest nor the witnesses had any connection to the church. “Haggis has not produced any evidence to support this false story,” they said.

But on Friday, presiding judge Sabrina Kraus ruled that Haggis would be allowed to raise the argument in the New York State Supreme Court and referenced the Church’s “tumultuous exit” from the director.

“The jury has the right to be informed of any possible reason [Breest] can have and about [Scientology leaders’] efforts to discredit Haggis,” Kraus wrote. “Haggis should be given the opportunity to present evidence that will show that the church was, in fact, seeking to embroil Haggis in ruinously false allegations about women prior to Breest’s allegations here.

“He was a member of the church for over 30 years. As part of his membership in the church, he had to report any “sexual transgression” outside of his marriage to the church. He rose to a higher position in the church. In a 2011 interview with The New Yorker, Haggis predicted that there would be an allegation against him, that the church would be behind the allegation,” the ruling said.

Haggis, who won an Oscar in 2006 for writing and directing “Crash,” left the church in 2009 over his opposition to same-sex marriage. He later called the organization founded by science fiction author L Ron Hubbard a “cult”, and he co-operated on a New Yorker article titled “Going Clear” which was later adapted for a critical documentary. from the church.

The director’s lawyers said there was evidence the church was trying to ‘find dirt’ on him, including ‘ruinous and false allegations about women’ before Breest’s rape allegation came to light. be made in 2017. They also argued that the Church of Scientology has come to view Haggis the way Iran views Salman Rushdie, who was the target of an assassination attempt in August.

Kraus’ decision places Scientology at the center of two rape trials, one involving Haggis and the other, in Los Angeles, centering on church member and actor Danny Masterson.

Masterson’s accusers in his case filed a civil lawsuit claiming the church harassed them after reporting him to law enforcement. The judge in the criminal case against Masterson said she allowed a discussion about the church into evidence.

During legal preparations for the New York trial, Breest was denied permission to discuss the Italian allegations against Haggis. In this case, the director was placed under house arrest for 16 days. An Italian judge later ruled there was insufficient evidence to continue to detain him. There are conflicting reports as to the progress of the investigation itself.

However, Breest’s lawyers managed to stop Haggis from talking about his finances. He had previously claimed that the complainant’s allegations had caused emotional distress because he was unable to work. Breest will be allowed to call three other witnesses – each identified only as “Jane Doe” – who also made sexual assault allegations against Haggis.

Breest never took her allegations against Haggis to law enforcement for a criminal investigation, saying she feared police would not believe her.

In a statement to Variety, the Church of Scientology said it “has nothing to do with the allegations against Haggis or anything to do with his accusers.

“The claim is absurd and patently false,” the church’s statement said.

The church also claimed that Haggis is a “con man” who “conspired with anti-Scientologists to shame his own accusers by ‘accusing’ them of making their claims on behalf of the Church of Scientology.”

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