The lawyer for a publicist who says Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis raped her in his SoHo apartment said Saturday that the Hollywood heavyweight’s preemptive lawsuit against her was a “further act of aggression.”
Haggis sued his accuser, Haleigh Breest, just hours before she filed her sex-assault lawsuit against him in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday.
In his lawsuit, the “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter accused Breest of shaking him down for a $ 9 million payday by threatening to go public with bogus allegations.
But Breest’s attorney, Jonathan Abady, said Saturday that his client would be vindicated.
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“As her lawyers, we view Mr. Haggis’ suit against her as a further act of aggression designed to deflect attention from his own wrongdoing as set forth in her complaint,” Abady said.
“We believe it’s a desperate and futile effort, destined to fail. Ms. Breest is telling the truth and will not be intimidated.”
Breest, 31, has accused Haggis of raping her on Jan. 31, 2013, after a movie premiere on the Upper West Side.
The “Crash” director offered to give her a ride home in his car that night but then repeatedly asked her over to his apartment for a drink, according to her lawsuit.
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She eventually relented but when they got to his home, “Haggis almost immediately began to make unwanted sexual advances and to forcibly kiss her,” her lawsuit says.
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Haggis forced her to give him oral sex, inserted his fingers into her vagina and then raped her, her lawsuit says.
Breest says in the lawsuit that she told close friends about the assault in the days after the incident.
The lawsuit says that Breest refrained from speaking out for many years because of trauma, fear and shame.
Haggis says in his lawsuit that he is the victim of blackmail — and that days before he filed his lawsuit, Breest’s attorney demanded a $ 9 million settlement to keep her from going public.
“The clear goal of (Breest’s) demand for such an absurd amount of money from (Haggis) is to scare him into giving this windfall to her to avoid his public hanging,” his lawsuit says.
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